Spring is for Gardening
May has sprung, along with the crocuses that we thought would never appear. Longer days and warmer weather get us thinking about gardening. I can’t think of any better activity to do with children than gardening. Along with the seeds sprouting through the soil, children grow in leaps and bounds in the garden. This is something I have known since I have started gardening with children: Gardens are the best classroom for children.
Benefits of Gardening with Children
Gardening can spark curiosity; help children see connections in the web of life; amaze children with the tiny minute animals that populate even a small clump of dirt. I love seeing children explore and enjoy the richness of the soil and the bliss of watching a plant sprout up after their careful watering.
For me, it’s the pleasure of watching children spend so much time with their hands in the soil, as they are happily engaged in planting and watching the sprouts grow. Children learn that plants need care, watering and sunlight. I teach them how to sun is necessary to cause photosynthesis, which creates the nutrients in the food we eat. And how the soil needs to be enriched and free of harmful chemicals, in order to grow food that is good for our bodies. I teach children about the nutrition of the plants we are growing. I watch with delight when children discover a carrot growing beneath the leafy stalks that they just pulled up out of the ground. And even more delighted when they take their first bite of a beet they have grown from a seed.
Planning your Garden
For now, we are preparing the soil, turning our compost pile and watering seeds indoors. Soon we will plant these seedlings outdoors. There is more work to be done, however, we also reap more rewards. Hands-on learning activities while I teach about nutrition, are just a few of the rewards.
Research Shows that Gardening with Children Improves Achievement in Science
For me, it is not just planning the garden and planting seeds. It’s planning the lessons that grow alongside the gardening, that turns the children into gardeners and scientists. That sparks their learning and love of science and math. Research shows that children who participate in gardening projects score higher in science achievement than those who do not.
I hope your school has a garden project, maybe even a greenhouse. And if they do not, perhaps you can plant the seed, so to speak. You can always tend a garden at home with your children and nurture their love of growing food while nurturing them to grow into health-conscious individuals who care about the planet.
Here is a resource to help you get started: Gardening with Children.