It is often debated whether gardening should be included in the national curriculum. Our immediate and soul focus on academic learning can often detract from more creative and explorative learning experiences. Could we do more to improve our children’s nutritional health and environmental appreciation? Here are three reasons why gardening should be taught in schools.
Encourage Healthy Eating:
Recent statistics indicate a shocking 1 in 3 children are overweight by the age of 11, with a third of children eating junk food every day; meaning it’s clear our children’s nutrition is being dangerously affected by convenience food. Also, the amount of time children spend outside is dramatically decreasing, in fact – three quarters of UK children are spending less time outdoors than prison inmates due to lack of green spaces and the influence of technology. School gardening provides children with opportunities to gain extra outdoor exercise whilst teaching them useful development skills. Gardens containing fruit and vegetables can help to revise attitudes about particular foods – students are more likely to try eating vegetables they have grown themselves and to ask for them at home. When this influence is taken back home, it can help improve their family’s shopping and meal choices.
Raise Environmental Appreciation:
The amount of time children spend outside is dramatically decreasing, in fact – three quarters of UK children are spending less time outdoors than prison inmates due to lack of green spaces and the influence of technology, indicating we desperately need to reconnect our children with nature to increase their appreciation for their surroundings. By deepening children’s sense of connection with nature, school gardening can inspire environmental stewardship. Children are able to learn about water and energy cycles, the food chain and the individual needs of different species, meaning they will have more of a desire to explore outside. Gardening can also offer insights to the long-term human impact on the natural environment. From the water shortage to the over-use of pesticides, children who engage in gardening have first-hand opportunities to observe the importance of conservation and intelligent allocation of resources.
Provide Unique Learning Experiences:
Gardening activities are fantastic for helping children engage in a way that is more difficult in the classroom. It allows for surprises to arise, for example, when plants are afflicted with fungus, how the weather and seasons can impact the growth of different crops and how different insects that are enticed by different plants. These opportunities show nature is in control of our world and give students immediate and personal reasons for wanting to know the answers to pressing questions.
Watching plants grow is a fun and educational experience for children. Their enormous curiosity and excitement over anything new makes them naturals for gardening. Growing plant seeds with kids teaches them how nature works, adds to their interest in environmental sustainability and gives them pride in seeing the results. It also helps encourage children to cook their own food and diminish their reliance on junk food – we can no longer deny that obesity is on the rise for children.
With this in mind, this infographic created by Gratnells powertray explores five different plants children can grow and nurture in schools.