Children and Gardens are a Natural Fit

planting pic for book.jpg

By Darleen Horton

School gardens provide opportunities to connect children to the real world through the common denominator of food. The process of planting seeds in soil, in a garden outdoors or on a window sill, instills a feeling of accomplishment. Gardening offers opportunities for students to take responsibility and to work with others as they build self esteem. Watching the garden grow is a visible sign of their success.

While gardens can be a cozy and beautiful place on school grounds, they also can be a vehicle to embed essential skills across the curriculum. Science, technology, engineering, arts, math, social studies, language arts, nutrition and environmental studies are easily integrated into gardening. The interdisciplinary approach to teaching in a garden levels the playing field as students acquire essential skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing world.

Gardening engages students through physical activity, exploration, flexible thinking and relevant learning experiences. Students learn to be resilient and innovative learners as they collaborate, communicate and grow in environmental responsibility. Students who garden make better food choices, become more physically active, and are more able to meet life’s challenges. Learning comes alive in a school garden!

We hear often that children are the future. Believe it. Learning about gardening and sustainability as a young person is tremendously empowering. Creating value in personal choice and seeing work rewarded with good and healthy food is a gift worth giving to all children, not just those whose families already “get it”. That’s why gardening at school is a lesson that may not be graded, but it is one that changes lives.

Recipe for a Garden

  • Start with one or more kids.

  • Add lots of dirt.

  • Throw in full watering cans.

  • Mix well.

  • Add seeds, chosen by the kids, and stand back.

  • While baking in the sun, praise highly and model patience by watching daily for signs of sprouting.

  • Observe the pride of ownership and dignity that grows along with the seeds.

Jennifer Elwell