Year 2: How Do Beach Lessons Bring Learning To Life?

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It is hard to argue with the poet William Wordsworth when he said, ‘Let Nature be your teacher.’

Between studying and describing life in rock pools to exploring number values using stones and chalk, the beach is an incredibly rich environment in which to consolidate the skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom.

Apart from all the sensory advantages of being at the seaside, a wide-ranging study by the National Foundation for Educational Research and Bede’s partners Kings College London, published in a paper entitled ‘A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning’, stated that out of classroom learning is proven to improve long-term memory, enable higher-order learning and “offer learners opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in ways that add value to their everyday experiences in the classroom.”

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To get the best out of outdoor learning a little bit of advanced planning has to take place, including frequent pre-lesson reconnaissance, but the ideas explored in the NFER/Kings study are at the heart of a Bede’s education. Every day we ensure as much learning as possible is presented in a cross-curricular way across the year groups and that barriers between subjects blurred, to encourage joined-up thinking.

We also work hard to design classroom tasks which embolden the children to take responsibility for their learning in active, independent ways, getting hands-on with every possible task; it is therefore second nature for Bede’s teachers to combine our child-initiated approach to learning with being outside, under the open sky, with the wind in our hair and smiles on our faces.

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One way to think about it is that of our many objectives one is to help the children to think outside the box; by removing the four walls of their Form Room the box is literally gone, and with the barriers removed between real life and the lesson at hand it is fairly normal to hear exclamations of, “That was the best lesson ever!” and, “When can we come to the beach again?”

For a teacher, there are few things a child can say that make might you happier. Moreover, with the beach quite literally on the doorstep it only takes a hop, a skip and a jump – along with the aforementioned lesson planning – to make beach lessons a regular feature of life at Bede’s.

 

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