Jungle School (aka Forest School) and all the wonderful benefits associated with it. Beach School is just the natural extension to the Jungle School concept. Like Jungle School, the Beach Schools have really taken off, promising just as many benefits to our children.
Forest School (aka Jungle School in Asia) is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. – Forest School Association
Nature Benefits of Beach School
Whenever we talk about the benefits of nature, the images conjured in our minds prominently feature a forest full of trees. It would seem that nature therapy is synonymous with “green therapy” even though nature isn’t just about the trees. Nature is also the sand and water – just like the beaches at Club Med that we were recently at. So when science says that the surf and sand does the mind (and body) good, it’s nothing we wouldn’t have guessed.
Beach School is Therapeutic
- The blue of the ocean is associated increased creativity – Science (Feb, 2009).
- Sea water contains minerals including magnesium, potassium and iodine that could help the body fight infection.
- Negative ion therapy from inhaling the sea breeze is calming and soothing.
- Staring at the ocean changes our brain wave frequency which puts us into a mild meditative state (which is good for the mind and body as well).
- Those who live by the coast report better physical and mental health than those who don’t – Health & Place (Sep, 2013).
- People who live in homes with ocean views report feeling calmer than those without them. – Journal of Coastal Zone Management (March, 2016).
Well doesn’t that sound similar to what was said about nature immersion?
Beach School Offers the Benefits of Sand Play
Being at the beach is more than just inhaling the sea breeze, soaking in the ocean water, and admiring the blue all around us. It is also a giant sand box of fun and education for the kids:
- Sand is an open-ended medium that encourages learning no matter the skill or cognitive level of the child. The open-ended nature of sand play means children can direct their own learning.
- Playing with sand promotes creativity, exploration, and problem solving skills. It develops cognitive skills by teaching mathematical concepts and encouraging scientific investigation. It also promotes artistic flair through creative expression.
- Sand play stimulates physical development by building fine and gross motor skills and refining hand-eye coordination as children build structures out of the sand.
- Through sand play, children practice their social skills as they cooperate, take turns, share ideas, and communicate with other children.
Sand play is also therapeutic because it offers tactile experiences that are soothing and calming. Children are free to act on their own ideas which builds self-esteem.
Learning at Beach School
Okay, the boys were not officially at beach school. This was just our family holiday at Club Med that happened to involve a bit of learning, exploration and play on the beach. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help noticing the enormous learning potential of the environment. Like the forest or the jungle, the beach environment is teeming with learning opportunities for children. These were just a few topics we dipped into.
G2 loves the beach and though he can swim, the waves at the beach are a whole new ballgame. At Club Med Cherating, rip currents and steep beach faces are a couple of the dangers the kids need to be aware of.
- How to talk to your kids about beach safety
- Rip Currents 101
- 7 ways to keep your kids safe on the beach this summer
- Drowning doesn’t look like drowning
Geography: Coastal Erosion
The beach formation at Club Med was interesting because it wasn’t your typical beach. There were sand deposits which created sections of water separated by mounds of sand. This interesting layout allowed the kids to observe “coastal erosion” in action.
We built sand structures and watched the waves erode them as the tide came in. We could watch a natural phenomenon that usually takes years occur within minutes.
If you wanted to, you could re-create this science experiment at the beach:
Ocean Wild Life
They could observe the wildlife at the beach – the turtles at the sanctuary, the crabs hiding in the sand, and the jellyfish brought in by the waves.
There is so much that can be done at the beach but if you’re stuck for ideas, do check out this list: beach games and activities. Maybe you live in a part of the world that doesn’t have an official beach school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t DIY.