The School by the Sea

If I ran my own school, it would be at the beach, with set times for internet access, and most lessons held in the open air. I am often concerned about the amount of time young people, and I mean the very little folk who are dear to my heart, spend in front of iPads, iPods, Androids, mini DVD players and other devices, or ‘vices’ of the technological kind. I’m not being a hypocrite here: I’m also quite fond of the internet and this post on my blog is testimony to that attachment. But as an educator, I am concerned about the current trend towards technocentric learning. At the School by the Sea, learning takes place in real time, is activity based, and includes social interaction across a range of ages, exploration of spatial relationships, play, trial and error, and the mastery of new skills. Writing letters in the sand, counting the shells placed on a castle wall, looking at maps to explore new secret beaches. Sharing. Taking risks.

Noah went diving for a baby Banjo shark. All the kids get a pat. Claudia loks a bit horrified but not as scared as the poor beast. after the lesson is over, it is released back into the sea.
Noah went snorkeling for a baby Banjo shark. All the kids get a pat. Claudia looks horrified but not as scared as the poor beast. After the lesson is over, it is released back into the sea.

Time spent at the beach each weekend provides one of the best environments for children to learn new skills and discover new interests, and in some cases, for their fathers to take time out to play with their children. There are lessons in geography and mapping, nature and the environment, history and language. Physical dexterity, along with give and take, occurs naturally as the children experience more freedom to run amok together in a safe space. They climb trees and stay up late to feed possums, copy the call of the kookaburra or the wattle bird, play soccer on the sand at sunset, wait for the tide to go out to explore sand bars, dress up or get dirty.

Charlotte collects crabs
Charlotte collects crabs.

The screens have finally been put away. Each child looks forward to their weekend visit, to meet up with their newly made beach friends. They are perennially hungry and no longer fussy eaters. I am one happy matriarch.

Oliver finds an old penny in the sand dunes
Oliver found a 1955 penny in the sand dunes at Sorrento. Lessons follow about pennies, sixpences, shillings, decimal currency.
Daisy learns to ride her bike without training wheels.
Daisy learns to ride her bike without training wheels.

19 thoughts on “The School by the Sea”

  1. Seriously delightful. It was not until I had my own child that I began to really appreciate my rural upbringing. I expressed my appreciation to my Mum recently and she seemed dumbfounded. She’s a country girl and has probably never considered she would raise a child any other way. Terrific post Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so agree, Francesca. I often observe my own grandchildren each enclosed in their own techno-bubble. Just getting them out of the house for a stroll down a quiet and garden-lined street provides a lovely opportunity to listen to them and just generally talk – “vices” of whatever shape and size don’t encourage communication.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up at the beach and we were given free rein to run and play. I loved it! I collected stuff, dug holes, ran up and down sandhills, built huge castles and generally had a great time. I still love the beach. I feel sorry for kids who don’t look past their IPads.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d put my hand up in a flash to be your Business Manager at your School by the Sea! What a lovely time it looks like you had together. Is that Sorrento back beach? I love that big rock pool there that is like a natural pool. I think I’ve mentioned before how I think kids who camp have a much better approach to life. So many ways for enlightenment and education.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, it is Sorrento back beach and the boys went snorkeling there. Then they went to Cape Schanck and another wild spot coming up this weekend. When I used to take year 10 kids down to Cape Schanck for a geography unit on coasts, I was surprised to find that many hadn’t ever been down that way with their parents. They found it boring- so sad.
      If you are going to be my Business Manager, we must have real food for lunch and wine at 5 pm.


  5. What a fantastic way to learn. When I have kids I want them to have an outdoor community based education. Hopefully by then there are more schools who agree with the outdoor classroom approach.


Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.