(Sunday, January 19th, 2014)
published at The Inertia
“There are more than a few benefits that children can get from receiving a maritime education straight from their school classroom. Let me highlight a few of them.
When I say maritime education, I am referring to a set of concepts related to teaching people how to properly behave in a typical beach scenario.
Starting with five and six-year-olds, the first fundamental skill these little ones must acquire is to progressively begin paying attention to the route they need to take between their home and the beach. Things like taking an elevator, learning to cross the street, not talking to strangers, sunscreen, proper clothing and regular hydration, for example, may come into play at this stage.
But wait a minute, what are the parents for, anyway? Of course, some of the aforementioned lessons are inevitably going to be taught by the parents at some point, but that doesn’t mean they should be completely disregarded by the physical education teachers in school. As the beach environment is a very energetic one – representing the limit between the oceans and the continents, and therefore suffering the constant impact from a diverse and powerful range of natural elements (waves, sunlight, winds, heat, cold, rain, etc.) – every effort in terms of preparing the kids for the beach should be seen as worthy. We want to make sure they not only learn what the parents have to say and follow their examples, but moreover that such learning is indeed becoming part of their daily habits.
Once on the beach, it would be every lifeguard’s dream for older kids to demonstrate to their parents where sandbars and other shallower areas are located, explaining that it is probably a good idea to choose a spot closer to a lifeguard tower to spend time and play with friends and family. Here, it would be perfect if they kept in mind that they also need to choose and pay attention to certain references on higher ground (a house, an outstanding tall tree, a shack, etc.) so as to not get lost from the parents.
Just as important, school swimming lessons could include certain case studies that are susceptible to occurring on the beach. Besides stressing the importance of good swimming skills as a primary condition for enjoying the beach, breathing exercises for dynamic rest (decreasing one’s heart rate while still floating and/or swimming), treading water, against-the-current swimming and underwater strategies for dealing with broken waves, are all also very important. If possible, field trips to the beach would dramatically contribute towards maritime education promotion. This would increase overall motivation and the positive outcomes with younger kids who are just initiating their contact with that kind of environment.
Older kids could also benefit from learning basic CPR and first responder practices at school. Being certified is a great way to arm yourself with that knowledge that could then be passed on to other beachgoers. Different forms of exercising on the beach for physical fitness purposes, surfing etiquette, the importance of respecting the lifeguards by understanding their role, etc., are also valuable bits of knowledge to pick up.
For all that, my research team and I agree that physical education teachers in schools should be encouraged to incorporate some basic maritime education contents into their regular teaching programs.”
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