How many of our pupils get to visit the beach? Visiting the beach can be very therapeutic. At the beach, there is a plethora of sensory feedback. The regular rhythm of sea waves is very soothing. The salty, sea air is very good for the sinus system. Ocean air has other health benefits too. The negative ions in sea air accelerate your ability to absorb oxygen, and balance your seratonin levels, a body chemical linked with mood and stress.
Some studies suggest ( see link below) that people who live next to the beach experience better health and Well being. Coastal proximity, health and well-being: Results from a longitudinal panel survey suggests that ‘self reported general and mental health was better’. We hear a lot about the connection between Mental Health and Physical Health. So back in the classroom should we be targeting Mental Health as a priority?
Pupils love sand-play and the vast expanse of the beach creates an immersive environment for them to escape their day to day challenges. It is important for children to be allowed to explore their play schemas e.g. envelopment – most children (without sensory issues) will enjoy burying items/people/themselves in the sand. Their knowledge and understanding of the world is enhanced by the exploration of dry vs wet sand. What better way to encourage communication skills than to set them the task of constructing a sand castle?
For older pupils it is important to teach the connection between the sea, its inhabitants and the carbon cycle. Scientists have discovered that the sea plays a major role in absorbing and distributing heat and CO2. Allow exploration of rock pools. If pupils connect with sea creatures they are more likely to want to Nurture them. Nurturing other creatures can be a therapy in itself.
Put a visit to the beach on the curriculum. Remember there are some pupils who have never even been to a beach.
For further reading on the survey please see link below