The children at Seaholme Kindergarten are lucky enough to live right by the sea. And thanks to their kindergarten’s innovative Beach Kinder program, they enjoy regular excursions to their local beach, where they can connect with their world, build vital skills and have plenty of fun.
This enriching learning program, introduced by Seaholme educators in 2017, features visits from local experts in Term 1 to teach children about animal, water safety and road safety, local marine life, and more. In other words, everything they need to know before venturing to the beach safely. And in Terms 2 to 4, both the 3 and 4-year-old groups have regular outings to the reserve and Altona Beach.
Every week focuses on a different adventure and learning outcome, guided by the children’s voice and spontaneous adventures while at the beach, explains Seaholme Kindergarten teacher Jamila.
"One week, for example, we used tools such as binoculars to observe the local bird life and engaged in conversations about keeping our beach clean. This further extends on our concepts of sustainability at the kindergarten. It also makes them aware of what to do if they attend a beach with their families because we observe and engage in this practice all the time.
"Another time, we created a hypothesis about why some of the sand underneath Altona Beach is black. I still remember one of the children's comments, 'Because the octopus had put ink underneath the sand', and I recall thinking, ‘That's clever’. That's really well thought out.’"
Jamila says the children love the program and it’s benefited them hugely.
“It’s an excellent way for children to connect with their local community and land, extend their confidence and all facets of their development while building their knowledge and developing maths, science, eco-literacy and sustainability skills using real-world examples.
The kindergarten also extends on their Beach Kinder program within the kindergarten setting itself. For example, they’ve recently installed sail shade cloths in their backyard and an incredible beach shack for play-based learning experiences, with the help of one of the kinder dads.
The program has also seen the community come together, with plenty of collaboration from families and community members at every step.
"It has been an amazing experience,” says Jamila. “Through this program, we as educators and families have been able to provide a true sense of connection, belonging and community for the children. It brings a sense of calmness and excitement all at once."