Why I love being a beach school leader

20 Feb 2017

Cassie Holland, Beach Schools

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“My first visit to a Beach School session was my most amazing learning experience to date! After spending years studying theories and experimenting with my own pedagogical thinking about all topics surrounding Early Years (including outdoor learning), going to my first Beach School session was the first time it all felt like it was really clicking into place.

I am now a Beach School Leader and Co-Founder of Bristol Beach Schools.  Rebecca Clevett, the Director of Archfield House Nursery Ltd, discovered the idea of Beach Schools when on holiday in Cornwall, while watching her son exploring on the beach. She did some research and found a Beach School Leader Qualification and the rest is history!

We find that Beach Schools are a way of giving children in their early years the opportunity to learn and develop in a natural environment, sparking their intrinsic motivations to explore, create and be curious about the world around them. Beach Schools provide an opportunity for holistic development for young children, giving them good foundations for the rest of their life.

From running free along the beach, making fires on which to toast marshmallows, mark-making in the sand with sticks, to bird watching, tracking animals’ footprints, jumping over waves, exploring crabs’ habitats and watching the local wind turbines work, the beach provides a wealth of learning opportunities. Being outside and able to access these learning opportunities, at the same time as being able to breathe in the fresh air and observe natural occurrences, we believe provides an even more amazing experience for children. Not only do Beach Schools provide these experiences, they also provide the opportunity for the magic of Awe and Wonder to inspire young children’s thinking and ideas.

The beach on which we hold our sessions is in Severn Beach, a small village 25 minutes by train from central Bristol. The beach looks out to the Severn Bridge and on clear days you can see Wales across the water. My favourite memory of magical thinking and learning at our Beach School was when we were creating a story together – myself, one other grown up and around 7 children. We spent a little while talking together about the people on the other end of the bridge, introducing the idea of Wales, its differences and similarities to us in England. One child then started to impersonate a whale, this happened a few times and we incorporated it into our story. After a while, the child objected, saying: “They’re whales, silly, they don’t speak human!” We had definitely been thinking of different Wales!

I love being a Beach School Leader because I get to experience and learn alongside young children as they discover new ideas that cannot be provoked in any other environment! I see the joy on the children’s faces as they reach the sea wall and discover if their predictions about whether the tide is in or out are correct, and explore ideas far beyond their expected thinking. We are learning together in a community and there is no better feeling.”

Cassie Holland
[email protected]
@BrisBeachSchool
@ Cassie_Holland
Facebook: Bristol Beach Schools
www.bristolbeachschools.co.uk

Institution: Author: Cassie Holland