A study conducted in 2017 found that children who play outside and engage with nature will be more motivated to protect the environment as they get older. Organic gardening benefits many different types of people, from providing affordable nutrition to families, to keeping you fit in retirement, but introducing the younger generations to the joys of organic gardening builds a necessary foundation. Consider integrating gardening into early education curriculum and see the results roll in.
Implementing Organic Gardening in School
The concepts of gardening and plant growth are best learned if experienced both in and out of the classroom. Setting up the outdoor garden space is something that can be done with the children. Children can help add soil to garden beds, plant seeds and water them. Setting up a classroom compost bin will show the decomposition side of nature, and provide your garden with a rich, organic fertilizer. Furthermore, investing in a small garden storage shed provides safe storage for all gardening equipment which is crucial for keeping play spaces free from potential hazards and protecting tools from the weather.
Children who participate in gardening at their schools tend to score significantly higher in science than children who do not garden. There are so many scientific and mathematical concepts that can be introduced and built upon when you take the class outside to garden. Planting a seed in the soil and watching it grow helps to solidify the previously abstract concepts of how plants work. Children can observe what happens when the plants go too long without water or how blossoms transform into food. Observing the garden will answer questions about what plants need to survive, and encourage questions about what their own bodies need to survive. Other educational concepts can be brought into the garden as well, including colors, measuring the growth of certain plants and counting.
Broadening Their Horizons
Introducing children to the joys of gardening at a young age will not only help them connect science concepts to real life, but will eliminate any fears about getting dirty. Despite growing trends of ‘cleanliness’ in parenting, exposure to dirt and germs in childhood can be highly beneficial. Exposure fortifies the immune system and guards against the development of allergies and asthma. Maintaining an organic garden will help parents rest assured that their children will not be exposed to harmful chemicals while at school. Growing a vegetable garden will encourage children to try new hobbies and foods! Many young children can be wary of trying unfamiliar foods, particularly when it comes to fruits and vegetables, but there is something about growing something with your own two hands that helps children to be a little more adventurous about the foods they are willing to try. Working together as a class to cook meals and prepare snacks with their homegrown organic vegetables and fruits will have them proud to try their handiwork.
Bringing organic gardening into your early childhood curriculum will have you students spouting impressive science vocabulary and trying new and nutritious foods in no time. The time in the sun, with hands in the soil will be a refreshing treat for teachers and children alike.
Author: Jenny Holt
Jennifer Holt is a freelance writer and mother of two, who loves nothing more than to play, “where has the cat hidden itself now.”