We all know that schools are busy trying to keep up with their targets, admin and assessments. So how on earth are they able to offer ‘extras’ in the form of subjects such as gardening? The key to being able to enhance kids’ lives lies in the creative energy of teachers and staff. So, rather than treat the garden as an extra, why not make it part of everyday life? Here's how to do it:
There are ways to incorporate the curriculum into a wide range of activities and gardening is just about the best. In fact, many people believe that gardening and outdoor activities hold the answer to numerous issues which are prevalent in society. These include depression, anxiety, social problems, and pressure that often stems from adult expectations.
Children have so much energy and all too often their natural curiosity is stifled at school because of the constraints that are placed upon teachers and staff – together with the inevitable funding gap. But there are so many fun activities that can generate real learning through actual tasks. All young people benefit hugely from ‘doing’ rather than just ‘sitting’.
It seems that just about every subject on the school curriculum can be incorporated into gardening with a little imagination. There’s numeracy to be enjoyed counting seeds, working out germination times, calculating planting densities, measuring growth and recording results. There are harvest times to calculate and hopefully the sharing of produce. Social skills are exercised during most tasks, including sharing out the hand tools between class members, forming groups to tackle certain jobs, using a partner to support a stick as it is positioned as a plant stake. The opportunities are endless.
There’s plenty of nature and science outdoors, from soil particles to wildlife, birds, habitats and predators. Then there’s construction, materials, the water cycle and equipment to explore. Not to mention growing, watering, food, taste, colour, nurturing and more. Children can easily understand the linking of subjects and the overlaps – helping them to make sense of the real world. What fun!
All hail to our teachers, they perform an immensely valuable service and just maybe working outdoors might prove beneficial for all.
The RHS is currently working on a brand-new project at Wisley. The Health and Wellbeing garden, designed by Chelsea Flower Show exhibitor Matt Keightley, will open during 2020. It highlights the importance of escaping the madness of the 21st century, achieving some sort of ‘mindfulness’ and focusing on nature. Gardening is now being prescribed by doctors, let’s join in the movement towards a greener future and enjoy!