It seems that kids are often underdressed for the weather, choosing instead to dress in what is ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ (I have literally seen boys on my daughter’s bus wearing shorts in the winter). As they get older, the struggle gets even more intense.
My daughter has been picking out her ‘outfit’ since she was about four (as long as what she has chosen is appropriate for school, as per her school’s dress code, I try to stay out of it), but decisions about outerwear have typically fallen to me.
However, this fall we’re trying something different. She’s craving more autonomy and I think this is an area in which she can test out her independence (after all, the consequences are minimal and do not endanger her from a safety perspective) . Having said that, she still needs to make an effort to dress appropriately for the weather, so this is a great opportunity to teach her some life skills, namely interpreting a weather forecast and applying critical thinking to her wardrobe selections.
So, how does one go about dressing for the weather? She will be responsible for checking the weather forecast before deciding on the day’s outfit. As an adult, I have read many a forecast, but it wasn’t until I talked to my daughter about what to look for, that I realized the number of factors to be taken into consideration.
- Temperature – she will need to look at what the temperature will be in the morning, as well as the afternoon (at this time of year, she can be heading out in temperatures barely above zero and coming home in temperatures in the mid or upper teens, so I talked to her about the practicality of layering her clothes to accommodate this variance)
- Humidity (mostly relevant in the summer months) – typically, this is denoted as a “Feels like” temperature and can significantly impact the temperature
- Wind speed and direction – it’s not enough to just look at the temperatures, she will also need to factor in the speed of the wind and what direction it is coming from (e.g. a wind from the North is colder than one from the South)
- Probability of Precipitation (POP) – truthfully, this one is a bit of a crap shoot, as POP is determined for a fairly broad region and weather can vary significantly from one area to another (heck, it can be raining at my house but the sun can be shining five minutes away) – generally speaking, if it’s not raining (or rain is not immediately imminent) at the time she leaves for school, I leave it up to her to decide on footwear (many a time, I have convinced her to wear rubber boots due to rain in the forecast, but it never happened and she had to stomp around all day in her rubber boots)
- Sunshine vs cloud cover – all things being equal, a mainly sunny day is going to be warmer than one that is overcast
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a ‘Girl Scout’ by nature (i.e. “Be prepared” is my motto), so I would be inclined to throw some ‘extras’ into her backpack, just in case, but I am leaving this up to her (generally speaking, she would prefer to ‘wing it’). She does not tend to feel the cold quite as much as I do, so it makes sense for her to start deciding what to wear for herself (truthfully, I have a tough enough time dressing myself!).
Although it is hard not to voice my opinion, I am doing my best to leave the wardrobe decisions to my daughter. On those days that she makes a poor choice (e.g. wears a lightweight jacket on a day with a high of 8 degrees and 25 km/h winds from the north), hopefully she will take what she learned and apply it the next time. With experience, she’ll get better at judging what to wear and I will get better at stepping back and letting her make the decisions.
If you’re interested in preparing your children for the real world by teaching them life skills that help them be more self-reliant, you may also wish to read my posts on Washing the dishes, Sorting laundry and Time management.