The Need For School Gardens Is Now
School gardens are more important now than they have ever been. We're all hearing the statistics about what's happening to our health... not to mention the environment. Thankfully school gardens are on the rise in the United States. More and more school districts are discovering the benefits of adding a teaching garden to their school yard. With childhood obesity increasing and the need for ways to boost academics, gardening seems to be quite the perfect match. Add to that learning some basic life skills, environmental stewardship, and even community involvement to name a few.
You've heard the term, "If they grow it, they will eat it?" It's true! Students will start out saying, “I don't eat broccoli." and they'll end up begging for more! I know this first hand. Something just changes in child when they have been the ones who have planted, cared for and finally harvest their food. You can just feel the sense of pride in students as they are take bits of this and that home to their families to try. Not only that, but discussions start about what vegetables they want to try to grow at home with their families. The door just seems to open to a whole new attitude toward good food. The whole process from start to finish encourages healthy living.
Academic achievement is listed as the number one reason schools choose to start a garden. With TAKS testing, every bit of help for students to achieve higher test scores is imperative to Texas schools. Thankfully, tests show that third, fourth, and fifth grade students that participated in school gardening activities scored significantly higher on science achievement tests compared to students that did not experience any garden-based learning activities. (Klemmer, C.D., Waliczek, T.M. & Zajicek, J.M. (2005). Growing Minds: The Effect of a School Gardening Program on the Science Achievement of Elementary Students. HortTechnology. 15(3): 448-452.) Many other subjects are covered in and through the gardening process, making the time spent even more valuable. Having “hands-on” time using a skill learned in a subject helps a student to truly understand it better and make it their own.
The world we live in today and in the future is going to have some tough challenges. News about peak oil, global warming and even here with our own droughts and water restrictions, all lead us to live more responsibly. Equipping children to be able to deal with these is necessary. Good gardening skills are becoming more important than ever.
It’s hard to find anything else that can even compare to these advantages. Wouldn’t it also be a great way to show our community about what special things are going on at your school? For as much hard work that goes on inside of the classrooms, having a garden helps to show off a school’s dedication to the care of its students. And if President Obama is putting in a vegetable garden at the White House, what a great time it is to start yours!
For more ideas and inspiration visit: KidsGardening.com