Astonishment about great awareness even amongst the youngest

by firmm Team

Text: Viola Boas; Photos: firmm

On June 13th Brigitte and I visited the school Virgen del Sol here in Tarifa. We wanted to tell the children a little bit about the whales and dolphins in the Strait of Gibraltar and inform them about environmental protection.

Our marine biologist Jörn Selling had previously given a lecture to the older students. They went on a boat trip to the whales the following day. (Actually luck was on their side, on that trip three sperm whales were sighted!) Photos attached.

The children on the way to the boat.Queuing at the ticket controlOur crew with the childrenSperm whale with irritating seagullsA beautiful moment

When I entered the school I was positively surprised, the large entrance hall was lined with paintings and works of art from the students and spontaneously the impression of a very creative atmosphere aroused.

I was prepared to give the children a detailed lecture about the marine mammals. On the way to the auditorium, one of the teachers discovered the large firmm folder under my arm, looked in amazement and said, "these are very small children, between four and six years of age".

And already the little ones around us were scurrying into the hall. Automatically I had a big smile on my face, but for a moment I didn't know what I was going to do.

Brigitte had the idea: "we just show the film about the animals and you tell a little bit about them".

We put the chairs aside and the children sat down on the floor. One of the teachers instructed the kids to sit cross-legged, now I had sixty little Buddhas sitting in front of me and the feeling that "it sure will be all right".

The film started and I explained the children what they saw in it. I tried to explain everything as child-friendly as possible. "Look, when the dolphins come out of the water they take a breath very quickly, it's like they have their nose on top of their head, when they come up they exhale and when they appear on the surface they inhale again.

The little ones listened with excitement and I was amazed at how attentive they were. After the short film lecture the teachers asked some questions and we told a little bit about how whales and dolphins sleep and how they behave in their family groups.

Finally I asked the children if they still had questions (at first I thought this question was unnecessary) but spontaneously about twenty small hands rose.I turned to a little boy, "what's your name?" "Pablo" Pablo said "if the whale swallows plastic it's not good at all" Then little Daniela "Everything we take with us to the beach, we take home again". And the next child "garbage doesn't belong on the beach!

Viola narratingA_question is asked

We quickly realized that the questions were not really questions, but rather that the children wanted to share what they already knew about environmental protection. Brigitte and I were surprised about what the teachers had already taught them about the marine environment and its inhabitants.

Some of the childlike comments sounded like this: "The turtle with the straw in his nose" ... we could then pick up on this and discuss such things as plastic bags and straws with the children, and the somewhat older children also helped the younger ones to explain their statements in more detail.

The teachers also told us that in such projects three age groups are frequently brought together, so the older children learned a sense of responsibility and could help the younger ones. And it was exactly like this when we distributed the pages of a sea animal colouring book and four children each sat down around a sheet of paper to colour it, there was no nagging... every now and then a question like "in which colour do we paint the teeth of the shark? - purple! ok! - ok!

One of the teachers took us on a tour of the school. Thanks to the commitment of the teachers, the corridors between the classrooms resembled a colourful museum and from the ceiling sculptures of sea animals, including a pink jellyfish made of paper and even a large orca made of fabric, were hanging.

One teacher said she often heard her children would move so much; she would then only reply, "Yes, they are also children, and not pieces of furniture, we are aware that it is against the nature of children to sit still for more than half an hour. Moreover, the learning success is much better when the children move around in between."

It was a thoroughly positive experience for us that gave us a lot of hope. I think that when the little ones are introduced to environmental protection, an automatic awareness builds up year after year. Brigitte and I left the school in a good mood, and we unanimously realized that the little ones had given us new hope.

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