Kids Learn Valuable Life Skills with Teaching Gardens
Studies consistently show that healthy behavior has a direct positive impact on learning. The aim of teaching gardens is to improve the health of children, which has been shown to have a direct correlation to students’ academic and physical performances.
Unfortunately, today’s statistics reveal that:
- Nearly a third of American children are overweight or obese.
- Less than 1 in 10 high school students receive the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables.
- French fries are the most common source of vegetables consumed by children (nearly one fourth of their vegetable intake).
Garden Farms has been a leader in establishing teaching gardens in Las Vegas area schools. Partnering with corporations such as Whole Foods, private individuals, and/or using crowdfunding efforts to raise much needed capital, Garden Farms has been able to start or is currently planning teaching farms in several Clark County schools.
According to Bryan Vellinga (Chief Farming Officer) at Garden Farms, “Teaching gardens provide a hands-on learning experience and, in turn, offer kids nutritional food choices. The gardens become real-life laboratories where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest the food, come to realize the importance of physical activity, and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits.”
Gardening is a good way for children to learn basic skills when they observe:
- How weather affects plants
- How seeds sprout
- How plants grow
- How to cope with plant problems
- How soil, water and sunshine interact
- How butterflies and other insects play a role
Scientific discovery abounds in gardens. Animals, insects, worms and other creatures are attracted to plants growing in a garden. Children learn by observing the ecosystem in a garden; bees pollinating plants; worms living in the soil and breaking down organic matter. Worms produce fertilizer and mulch for plants, making it more fertile for plant reproduction.
An ecosystem thrives in a garden and can be observed daily. Observing the process of growth and change enables children to anticipate yet be patient, and helps them realize our resources are finite and the environment is challenged.
Furthermore, students extend learning from gardening by reading books and watching videos about nature. Fruits and vegetables are plant-based food products that promote hands-on education when children locate seeds, peelings and other plant parts while they eat. When asked: “How do your students benefit from teaching gardens?” Teachers indicated that teaching gardens provided an authentic learning context for students: basis for reading, writing, math, social studies, and language activities.
In the face of statistics that show the staggering impact of obesity-related illnesses on our children’s health, the simple process of putting a seed into the earth, nurturing it and harvesting the food teaches kids to make positive and healthier choices. Teaching gardens show students what they can accomplish on their own to improve their well-being. Ultimately, this helps students understand what it means to be healthy: reinforcing the value of eating well, being physically active, and creating a healthy body and mind.
Teaching kids where vegetables come from and the benefits of healthy eating can inspire change and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity — and may even motivate other family members to modify their diets and improve their health. If you’re interested in learning more about teaching gardens or if you’d like to contribute to this worthy cause, contact Bryan at Garden Farms.