Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday recently, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.

On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.

What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.

It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.

They were messages about:

  • Family – having fun together, and the different combinations of people which make up our families.
  • Play – having fun together through walking, swimming, playing cricket or footie, building sandcastles, cooking and eating.
  • Water – the power of the water, the sound of the crashing waves, the ability to stem the flow of water from a small stream by building a ‘dam’ wall of sand, and then breaking the wall to allow it to flow again, into the ocean.
  • Beach safety – holding hands with the young children as they jump the waves, and seeing the presence of the Lifesavers and understanding what they do.
  • Nature – appreciating the beauty of the place – the beach, the sand, the bush approaches, and the tended picnic grounds.
  • Language – children heard the different languages of the the cultures present, realising that there is more than one way to speak.
  • Sharing – sharing the ball, the games, the space, the food and the picnic tables.
  • Taking ‘risks’ – showing younger children how to traverse the rocks, or jump across the small stream, to ‘dare’ to get your clothes wet whilst exploring the waters edge. Watching the older adults who safely surf or parasail.
  • Rubbish – ensuring that your rubbish is taken away or placed in the bins – as well as many collecting any stray pieces which have blown there.
  • Hygiene – re-inforcing washing your hands after using the public toilets or after collecting the rubbish.
  • Exercise – participating in running, climbing, walking or swimming. Watching the people surfing or parasailing, with the idea that when the children are older that they can join in. Noticing that people exercising are having fun!
  • Humanitarianism – the ethnicity of people wasn’t relevant….. everyone shared the space equally and enjoyed all it had to offer.
  • Shared work – after a fun day, there are sand toys and bags to carry back to the car, and then unpacked and cleaned at home.

So many amazing lessons on the beach – many of them unspoken messages, but equally absorbed by the children.

We expose our child to these sort of spoken and subtle messages whichever environment they are in – be it the beach, the supermarket or movie theatre. It helps children to learn the ‘rules’ of their environments and our society, through us as parents, and by the others who use the same space.

Happy learning one and all!

Image by Mark Belokopytov via Flickr

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