Happy New Year Everyone!

As usual, a holiday gives me time to dream and scheme. I’m currently in the middle of revamping my website. It’s a substantial job and when it goes live will only represent a small fraction of my vision for what I ultimately want it to be.

One of the things which will change is that I will have advertising on both this blog and the new website. I’m trying to make the social enterprise aspect of my work more transparent. The aim is to put the money raised into some kind of outdoor clothing scheme as I feel if children are properly (or better) dressed for being outdoors then they are able to get outside more often.

My original plan was to offer small scale grants to organisations and schools. However, I’m now wondering whether setting up a “Try Before you Buy” box would be more effective. The aim would be to create a box with:

  • A selection of different clothing from different companies. For example trousers, dungarees, all-in-ones, some with elastic cuffs, others with velcro, some with poppers, some with zips, possibly a cape or two and a range of colours and sizes.
  • Advice sheets about factors to consider. For example, the Swedish Civil Defence League advocate very young children being dressed in bright colours, with some reflective material and elastic cuffs on waterproof trousers to keep the warmth in and the wet out.
  • Suggestions for involving children of different ages in putting together criteria for testing and deciding which clothing is most effective
  • Suggestions for acquiring clothing and fundraising
  • Some simple outdoor ideas to try whilst testing the clothing!

The idea is that the box could be loaned to a class for a few weeks to try out. Whilst there would not be enough clothes for a whole class, it would be a good positive focus on the benefits of wearing appropriate clothing. I think it would generate discussions and enthusiasm for getting outside using an enterprising and interdisciplinary approach.

The idea has grown from my experience of working with different groups of children. I have a box of clothes that I make available to classes with which I work. What has been interesting has been observing which clothes the children choose and why. For example, red clothes and yellow clothes are most popular with children who like to pretend they are fire fighters or have other jobs. I also see children mix and match jackets and trousers/dungarees. As my own son grew up he switched preference from red to navy blue but remained fussy about the texture of outdoor clothes and how they feel.

I’m interested to know your thoughts. Do you think would work well? Do you have any questions? Any drawbacks or concerns?

Many thanks.

PS All the clothes worn in these photos come from Raindrops Clothing, in case you were wondering! I’ve always like the range and choice offered. However lots more outdoor clothing companies are springing up, often set up by parents with young children.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Debi January 4, 2012 at 01:32

What a wonderful mission for the coming year! I would love to have a “try before you buy” program in these parts. It’s hard to know what products will work for your kids if you’re just looking at a photo & reading reviews.

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Tess Michaels January 4, 2012 at 02:08

Love the Blog and my best wishes in your exercise in fundraising. I almost wish it rained more here or snowed! I’d love some snow.

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Juliet Robertson January 4, 2012 at 11:45

Thanks for your feedback. A friend via Twitter also pointed out that sometimes, schools forget about where wet clothes go that need drying out and those practicalities too! This box would allow for that sort o experimentation too.

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Malin January 4, 2012 at 16:08

Sounds like a great idea! Have you tried the waterproof mittens? If not, do it. I think they are great. I like the ones with fleece inside the most, mainly because they are warmer.

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Kierna C January 4, 2012 at 18:56

This is a great idea, I have found that it is always useful to have a look at the rain gear before you buy. I know our P1 & P2’s got stuff through Tesco vouchers but had I seen it first I could have told them it wasn’t going to be very waterproof. Good luck with this idea Juliet. I also think if PTA’s etc can see the stuff in use they are much more likely to be supportive of funding it.

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tomsensori January 4, 2012 at 20:03

People who know how to actualize their ideas so enrich this world. And since you are in that category, go for it. You may want to include a log of how and when the stuff is used. Or maybe even a feedback form of what worked and what did not. That doesn’t have to be the sole province of the teachers, either. Hey, but you have probably already thought of that. Best of luck. Tom

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craig armiger January 5, 2012 at 20:58

What a great idea as there are so many brands on the market. You could go for a sustainable approach. Year 3 supplying year 2 with their outgrown waterproof. It could be labelled by a school tag designed by the class. Leaving year 6 to donate. It might not be everyone but over the years it will build up.

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Juliet Robertson January 6, 2012 at 08:58

Thanks for all the feedback

1) Agreed Malin over the waterproof mittens! Amazing things. Often schools forget about mittens, and warm woolly socks and insoles for welly boots.

2) Kierna – I think it’s hard for schools who are generally skint as the vouchers are a good way of getting clothes. But the lack of choice is not good and the quality is variable. Good point about the PTA involvement

3) Feedback forms will definitely be part of the box Tom – and yes hopefully the children will be involved in that too.I want children to be fully involved as so often their views about clothes are not considered yet they are the people who have to wear them.

4) Craig – inspired comment. Thank you.

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J.Duncan January 7, 2012 at 13:04

I think this is a great idea.

Are there many companies who do outdoor clothing for older pupils? It would be good to have a selection of affordable clothing for upper stages.
If you would like a school to trial anything I’d be happy to organise something. My P7s would enjoy helping P1s (they all have a buddy or two in P1) look at outdoor clothing and chosing what would be useful? It would be fun/useful for them as well as the P1 staff.

I like the idea of the waterproof gloves as that’s always a problem with my class on cold days – soggy, thin, woollen gloves!

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