Jond’Marie Stilwell Elstob, principal of the Modern Knowledge School’s kindergarden on community activities in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
When the political situation made it difficult for school kids to go out into the local community on educational field trips, Jond’Marie Stilwell Elstob, principal of the Modern Knowledge School’s kindergarden, decided to bring the community to the school with a series of visits and initiatives.
In the run up to Christmas the youngsters were set a challenge to collect pet food, toys and blankets for the residents of Tony the Dogfather’s animal rescue, rehoming and rehabilitation centre and, to say thank you, Tony and some of the animals visited the school.
Accompanied by dogs Pirate and Dylan and cat Salon, Tony attended morning assembly and spoke to the children about how to approach animals and caring for pets.
Questions from the kids included ‘do dogs brush their teeth?’ and ‘do dogs take a shower?’ The answers, in case you’re wondering, were that dogs have special treats designed to keep their teeth clean and yes, indeed, they do have regular showers.
Jond’ Marie explained: “When it got difficult for us to take the children out, we had to come up with another way for them to learn about what’s going on around them so we set them challenges that work alongside the curriculum.
“I’m a great believer in that old saying ‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand’ – if the children actually have the chance to experience something, they have a much better chance of understanding and remembering it than if they simply read about it in a book or are told about it.
“We were studying the environment and we had a speaker come in and talk to them about the importance of saving water by introducing how climate change affects polar bears.
“With the animal initiative, this is something we did last year too. We have prizes for the children who bring in the most items. There were two particular pupils who stood out this year.
“One went around at the British Club asking for cash donations, then her mum took her and her sister to the pet shop where they picked out the items they wanted to buy – so they showed initiative in setting up the collection and then learned the value of money by going to choose the items they wanted to buy.
“Another went round the houses in her neighbourhood collecting various items from her neighbours – that involved her whole community and also helped her learn that, with animals, it’s not just about food, they also need blankets and toys and, if they’re lucky, treats.
“Tony comes to the school to collect all the donations and brings some of the animals so the children get to see where their gifts are going and also learn a little bit about animal care at the same time.”
Tony said: “This is a great initiative which is really helpful to the centre, lots of our regular supporters will be away over the Christmas period so having extra food in store is always a good thing.
“I also really welcome the opportunity to get out into schools and talk to children about animal welfare and how to treat animals properly.”
The Modern Knowledge kids are also collecting uniforms to donate to less fortunate children in Africa, have taken part in a government-run recycling initiative, during which they collected more than 60,000 plastic bottles and cans, and next year Jond’Marie hopes to get them handing over unwanted toys to donate to one of the island’s orphanages.