Educational Benefits from Gardening

  1. Science: Ecosystems, cooperative community model, growth and decay, Biology.
  2. Environment: Water conservation, waste reduction, soil conservation.
    1. Economics: save money on water bill, reduce waste in community, save money on grocery bill, fundraiser market stand. Sustainability.
  3. Vocabulary and Reading skills: Books can extend the garden experience, as well as introduce new learning.  Young children enjoy reading books relative to their experiences.  What is a fruit?  Vegetable?  How do they grow?  See this article Nuturing Good Health and Cultural Traditions: A school garden touches all ages. By Charlie Nardozzi. 
  4. Writing: students will keep individual journals and keep a pictoral record of their discoveries in the garden.  Model ‘Sid the Science Kid’ on PBS. 
  5. Math: counting & sorting, weights & measures, introduction to concepts of calendar time.
  6. Social: Children will learn to cooperate and work together for a common goal.  In the garden, students do the majority of work, learning to differentiate jobs like pulling weeds (no fun but necessary) and watering (fun but you can over-do-it).  Teachers facilitate student experiences, and instruct children in communication skills.  “Jason, did you remember to close the lid to the tool box?”  A learning garden can also provide an arena for peer leadership, environmental awareness, interpersonal relationships, and a sense of belonging.
  7. Emotional: Caring for plants and flowers is known to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.  Seeing a plant to fruitition gives a child self-assurance and confidence.  As a group children will understand the need for sharing withing the school community, and will develop a sense of responsibility to self and others. 
  8. Health & Wellness: What do fruits and vegetables do for our bodies?    Where does food come from?  (Fun fact: you can grow potatoes in a stack of old tires)  The healthiest foods for humans are grown in the earth.  How far does food travel?
  9. Project-Based Learning: Gardening teaches across the board in conceptual areas.  Students use inquiry for self-directed learning of issues that are relevant to their lives.  Students will learn problem-solving (The tomatoes look droopy. What could be wrong?)  and decision-making (I’ll check the soil to see if it’s dry).  Again, teachers are facilitators, not directors.
  10. Nature Deficit Disorder.  Author Richard Louve coined this term in his book “Last Child in the Woods.”  The main concept is that children’s lack of outdoor time results in several behavioral issues.  Check out the article: “Back to Nature: a relationship with nature over the life course can affect our well being, ability to manage stress, cognitive development, and social integration.”  By Joe Wilensky. Human Ecology (Sept 2002).  Recent medical research is finding a vitamin D deficiency in adults with cohlesterol problems, and in sedentary individuals.  Humans receive vitamin D from whole milk, but also from sunlight.  Daily exposure to sunlight increases production of seratonin, which makes us feel happy.  Infants are being born with vitamin D deficiency, due to the mother’s own deficit from lack of milk in diet and lack of exposure to sunlight. 

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