Beach Safety … It’s Never Too Early to Learn
Youngsters at Center for Early Learning discover meanings behind flag warning system at area beaches; week-long “Our Beaches” curriculum building kids’ understanding of their coastal environment to have a safe, fun summer
Article by Melinda Eddleman
For youngsters enrolled at Del Mar College’s Morris L. Lichtenstein, Jr. Center for Early Learning (CEL) this June, teachers have developed curriculum focused on Summer Time Fun. More specifically, during the week of June 7-11, kids are learning about “Our Beaches,” including beach safety.
After all, you’re never too young to learn about how to stay safe while visiting the beach!
Our program goal, including what teachers work on when developing curriculum, is to tie concepts back to concrete experiences and topics that the children can relate to. Summer is a time when families take advantage of the environment around them, and going to the beach is one of those activities Coastal Bend parents and children look forward to each year. We want to teach our center’s children about having a greater understanding of our environment, including beach safety when they’re near or in the water.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, about ten people die from unintentional drowning every day. Of those deaths two are children aged 14 or younger. And, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
During a June 8 safety discussion and activity related to visiting the beach, 15 four- and five-year-olds received a bag that included information covering the flag warning system, rip current information, stickers, chocolate, a Je’Sani Smith Foundation bracelet or keychain, a pen, chip clip and information about registering and receiving messages from the Coastal Bend’s REVERSE ALERT system. DMC mascot Valdar the Viking also handed each child four mini flags representing those used at the beach to signal conditions, including rip currents, which the youngsters got to keep after discussing how the flags are used.
Throughout the week during Storytime, CEL staff are reading Madeline Brindley’s “The Royals Go to the Beach,” a children’s book that emphasizes beach safety and written by the author after losing her father to a drowning death as a young girl. Published in January 2014, the children’s book covers water safety.
“The Royals Go to the Beach” was donated to the CEL by the Je’Sani Smith Foundation, an organization founded by DMC employee and mother Kiwana Denson and her husband Terry after their son Je’Sani drowned after being swept up by a rip current at a local beach in April 2019.
In addition to Tuesday’s beach safety activities, the week-long “Our Beaches” curriculum includes:
- (Monday) an introduction to “Our Beaches” along the Gulf of Mexico with youth learning geography and its importance because of where they live and visit,
- (Wednesday) sandcastle building that introduces youth to science concepts, including how properties change when water is added to sand,
- (Thursday) seashell hunting on local beaches with children learning about marine life specific to their native surroundings, and
- (Friday) sea animals that live in the Gulf of Mexico with a “deeper dive” into marine life specific to our local ocean.
Eldrige adds, “It’s important for us to start educating children at an early age about the community they live in, how to take care of our environment and how to be safe while enjoying all the things our area has to offer. The key is to educate our children and families. Education leads to knowledge, and knowledge increases awareness of surroundings and situations to help keep our children safe.”
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.