Traditional classroom activities often involve passive learning as children read aloud and listen to their teachers. But activities in an outdoor garden classroom bring abstract concepts to life through active, hands-on learning. School garden programs use typical gardening tasks, such as planning, planting, caring and harvesting, to illustrate cultivation. Plants, insects, birds and weather all become participants in the learning process. As a result, children are more engaged, more attentive and more motivated to learn.
Through schools gardens, children experience the rewards of fresh produce and the process that brings them to pass. They learn to understand the natural growth of plants — from seeds to sprouts to flowers to fruits — and the impact that rain, drought and other forces of nature have on plant life. Children learn firsthand the connection between nature, their own food supply, and the pollinators and other creatures their school garden ecosystem attracts and supports.
SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY SKILLS
By their nature, schools gardens encourage teamwork, individual responsibility and a commitment to success. In much the same way team sports foster pride in student athletes, school gardens strengthen bonds between school gardeners, schools and communities. Many gardens involve community volunteers, who assist students as they plant, tend and learn. Increased interaction between children, teachers and volunteers encourages growth in interpersonal and cooperative skills that follow children throughout their lives.
Many children lead sedentary lifestyles and have a limited understanding of the links between exercise, nutrition and lifelong health. While traditional classroom learning involves little physical activity, gardening is filled with movement. Children (and teachers and volunteers) stand, walk, kneel and stretch as they tend to their plants, and they're often so absorbed in tasks that gardening's physical and therapeutic benefits are nowhere in mind. Even so, this increased physical activity overflows to children's lives outside of school.