What is it about the coast that entices us, beckoning us to step closer to the point where earth pays homage to water? Whether it be fair weather or foul, languid waves lapping sandy shores or surging surf pounding the resolute coastline, standing on a beach, and gazing towards the horizon, provides an infinite feeling of time and space, and a very palpable sense of freedom.
Is it any wonder that the concept of ‘Beach School’ is gaining momentum. Margaret McMillan phrased it beautifully - ‘The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky.’ Taking the curriculum to the coast is one of the best ways for children to problem solve in a uniquely creative way - literally ‘blue-sky’ thinking ... on a cloudless day at least!
Using only the resources we are able to find on location (with the help of a few buckets and spades), we are able to pose challenges that require children to step out of their comfort zones, adopt a flexible approach, work collaboratively and persevere to achieve a novel solution; all whilst enjoying the benefits of fresh air and hearty physical endeavour!
The wealth of learning opportunities multiplies when visiting a beach because experiences are never predictable. Mother Nature is full of surprises, and the chance to take learning in an entirely different direction following an unexpected discovery makes a Beach School session all the more memorable.
Children are passionate about their environment and are eager to protect their heritage. They are incensed by the numerous threats to our coastal resources, and rightly so, but providing them with hands-on opportunities to make a small, meaningful difference counts for so much; they love to feel that they are contributing and helping.
We don’t always appreciate how closely we are connected with the rhythms of nature; tides that advance and recede, the moon and earth dancing its tireless waltz, the rising and setting of the sun...giving children the opportunity to spend time outdoors and embrace the natural order of life is simply listening to the very heartbeat of their DNA.
All year groups from Reception to Year 6 will experience a Beach School session once a term, possibly to West Kirby, Thurstaston, or further afield. We take this opportunity to make links with what the children are learning in the classroom and we generate new and interesting problems for them to solve in an environment that is free from preconceptions, or familiar, tried and tested resources. Taking a risk, trying something different, and persevering when it doesn’t go quite according to plan makes a Beach School experience the best possible conduit for memorable learning opportunities!