Spanish beaches, especially those on the Atlantic coast are great places for kids to discover local sea life. Long stretches of white sand but also calm and cozy coves with rocks, cliffs and bathing pools are perfect spots for multisensory exploration and social interaction. When our son Julio found small crabs on the beach he was soon surrounded with children of all ages curious to see and touch funny little creatures. Naturally, language was not a problem as children intuitively know how to find their ways to communicate. They do it using their bodies, gestures, facial expression or actions, activities which they want other children to imitate or join. Julio gently placed the tiny crabs on his palm for other children to see and showed them how to handle these little animals in order not to hurt them. He wanted to put them back in the water so he headed for the rocks where his new friends joined him and they all went looking for the best place to free the crabs.
Social – emotional development:
- child develops his/her social skills using naturally occurring situations such as finding an interesting animal, object etc. to initiate contact with other children
- child uses his/her body language, facial expression, sounds and languages to initiate and sustain interaction
- child acts, moves, does something to catch other children’s attention and to encourage them to play
- child recognizes other children’s play cues and engages in play and further interaction
How to help your children develop social-skills:
- when on the beach allow your children to find their own objects of interest and offer them enough time for free exploration. You may gently suggest some options such as stones, pebbles, feathers, shells by showing your child what you have found and saying why you like these object or where you found them etc.
- allow your children decide when and whom they want to interact with. Children intuitively know when it is the best moment for them to catch other children’s attention. Don’t worry if it takes some time, days or even weeks. Some children may prefer to observe others first before getting involved in any kind of interaction. Children also just play on their own next to other children without any kind of social interaction and why they do this will depend on their age and stage of development. As for smaller children, they may be at the stage when they do not need to interact at all, they will just play on their own next to other children. Preschool and school kids may us their play to observe and to attract other children’s attention.
- allow your children to decide how they will communicate with others. Try not to suggest what language they should speak and what they should say. Your children will find their own way by trying different options and will choose the one which is the most effective and comfortable for them. This way they will learn to be independent and self- sufficient and will help them predict the consequences of their actions, words etc.
Photo location: Cala de Aceite, Cadiz, Spain