Thursday, April 12


Mid April. Warm, sunny weather and a steady stream of tourists in shorts and sandals. On the beach sunbathers lie in their costumes on towels and loungers, soaking up the rays. Sapring is definately here and summer seems to be very close by.

So why are the children in the Kindergarten School still not allowed outside to play?
The playground is a mess, covered in fallen leaves and a collapsed net, the toys underneath dirty and abandoned. The children are kept closed in a stuffy classroom for up to seven hours a day with no fresh air or excersise. Surely something must be done?

Some here believe that cold fresh air will harm a child and for this reason the school playground is off limits to the under 6's for most of the winter month. But this past winter has been particularly mild and sunny. Yet nothing has been done to clean up the playground and let the children out to play.

Yesterday when asked why the children couldn't go out a teacher replied that they would definately go outside that afternoon. Later when asked if they had played outside the children claimed that the teacher had told them that there were rats in the playground, they couldn't go outside because it was dangerous.

The next morning, yet again a teacher was asked to explain why the children could not play outside. The reply was that there was nobody available to clean the playground. One expat mother offered to clean the playground herself but her offer was forgotten as an Italian mother arrived asking worridly whether it was true that there were rats in the playground. It was understood that another teacher had invented the rat story as an excuse to tell the children why they couldn't play outside.

Children need fresh air and excercise. They do not need to be wrapped up in mounds of sweaters, coats, hats and hoods. This is South Italy and the climate is mild. Have the locals ever considered how people in more northern climates cope?
Children in England and Scotland are sent outside to play ever day, no matter how cold it is and they come inside glowing and happy. Children in Sweden and Norway celebrate and throw off their coats and hats when the temperature hits 10 degrees.

How has it come about that here in South Italy a mother can be scolded for not putting a woolly hat and coat on her child when in England the child would be in short sleeves? And how can it be considered acceptable to keep 60 small children closed up in 3 small classrooms for seven hours while outside the sun shines and the thermometer hits 20 degreesC?

UPDATE: 13th april.
It worked!! This morning the playground was all spick and span ready for use.


  1. That’s funny... when I went to school we had the choice to stay inside during the breaks if it was colder than -15 otherwise we had to go out and play and get some fresh air. But thats North Norway....Tone

  2. Nicki, I am CONSTANTLY scodled because I always refuse to overdress my son. Meanwhile I would like to point ou to everybody that the sickest children of the entire world are A.L.L. H.E.R.E.
    But believe me this is a lost war, I can assure you. Nobody will ever change the state of mind of the "savvy people" here.

  3. Nicki, this is outrageous! Here in NYC, as long as the windchill is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, our students go out to play.

    I hope your story helps to change this situation.

    BTW----As always, I enjoy reading your blog. It gets better and better. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and experiences.

  4. Cold or not, the kids in this part of france have two recesses (outside) a day. Something about getting their vitamin D.

  5. I don't have children here yet so I don't have to deal with that aspect, at least, but I do find all the talk of "colpo di aria" really annoying myself. In January in London with my two Italian tripmates, we saw kids in shorts and t-shirts playing soccer in the parks (actually field after field of them) as it was a particularly mild day. Needless to say, the Italians were shocked and worried that the hundreds of kids all playing in t-shirts and shorts would get sick. Do you think the school just uses the "catching a draft" thing as an excuse because they are just disorganized and can't get the playground cleaned up?

  6. Wow-can't wait to hear the reaction to your article! Good for you to speak up and lobby for the children to be able to play out in the fresh air.

  7. Niki you're right, this is a typical italian thing, we are obsessed by the cold weather even if it's warm outside because we are not used to. Now i changed my mind and go to the beach even in winter time especially this year. But i also think that many teachers are too lazy to take the children out. Maybe in Sicily where i come from is a little bit better but stae of mind must be changed.

  8. What are those crazy teachers thinking? I am a teacher here in northern CA (where it's often cold and foggy) and if I don't let the kids out for their recesses, I would be the one to go crazy! Of course the kids need fresh air and sunshine! They also need an outlet to release their kiddie energy. I find them much more calm and eager to learn when they've had their breaks. I certainly hope your article gets the ball rolling.

  9. Amazing! I don't get it! I applaud your consistency in offering. Don't give up, the kids will love you if that playground gets polished up a bit.
    Total nonsense, btw, about the cool air, blah, blah, it's old italian wive's tales and pure rubbish! I know, I'm preaching to the choir, but honestly.
    I have a pet rat. Perhaps Poppy would like to bring it for show and tell? LOL

  10. Don't they realize how easy it is for germs to spread if all of the students are kept in cramped quarters for the whole day? The reason for recess is to get some exercise and Fresh Air! As the husband and father of preschool teachers i hear this all of the time. Enjoy the beach!

  11. This is amazing! Here in Sweden, one of my friends actually sends her toddler to a daycare that is COMPLETELY outdoors. They eat, play and sleep outdoors all day long - what a complete opposite situation, huh?

    I am glad they finally 'released' the kids. What was the reaction from the newspaper article? Anything?


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