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Out to the Garden!

Megan is a Canadian Teaching Assistant working in London primary schools through Protocol Education. 

Out to the Garden with the Worms:  The Benefits of Gardening in Schools
Several schools all over the world have been creating gardens on their campuses.  There are many reasons why gardening can be beneficial for students to experience.
 In my previous blog entry, I wrote about the creation of a vegetable garden at a school in a rough area near my college.  The reason why we created one was because several of the students that attended this school had rarely eaten any fruit or vegetables in their lives.  This was due to the fact that fast food (take away) food was often cheaper and more convenient than healthy food was.  
Giving children access to healthy food options is a must in schools.  We, as teachers and TAs, need to lead by example.  By having a garden in schools, children will be able to eat healthier and as a result, have more energy and better academic performance.   
Some of the students that I have spoken to in the past have had a difficult time understanding the life cycle of plants.  A fantastic way to teach them the cycle is by allowing them to see how it works in a more hands-on way.  For example, if there is not enough room for a school to have an entire garden, teachers can have students grow beans in their classrooms.  A school I was at recently did this and the students checked their growth every day and were able to compare it to examples found in books.
It opened up several discussions about food and nature that lasted for a while.  I also recall doing this activity when I was a youngster in school.  It was great.  It was probably the first time I learned about gardening in school.  I was fortunate because my family kept a small garden growing up.  I suppose the reason I like animals and plants so much is because I was exposed to it at such an early age and all throughout my childhood.  It’s a fun and informative activity that can eventually yield a small crop if planted at home.  
I’m sure that several teachers have heard in the past that by giving students a job, it helps them take pride in having responsibilities and can help students with behavioral issues.  Students who are a little more “rowdy” than their peers find it easy to step into a leadership/ delegation role when put in a group gardening setting.  They enjoy getting their hands dirty and they appreciate and want to learn about what they are doing.  Instead of constantly being told to quiet down and pay attention in class, they now have the opportunity and responsibility to be independent which many students excel at, if given the chance.  Just because a student might be difficult in class, it does not mean they will be in other areas of life.  You just have to discover what they like and are good at and go from there.
The psychological and physical health benefits are amazing when it comes to gardening not only for students, but for the adults involved, as well.  Teachers enjoy doing something a bit different while still following the curriculum set out, and parents will be proud of their children for learning something that their children are genuinely excited about.  It’s a winning situation all around.  If you or the schools you are at are thinking about creating a garden for the school or classroom, there are many books and websites that can offer helpful tips.  Brainstorming with the children is always good, as well, so that they can feel even more a part of the experience.  
Happy gardening everyone!
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More Blogs:

An Unexpected Experience - also by Megan

Behind Every Good Alicia




Tags: MeganS, TA, Teaching Assistant, Canadian, Gardening, Environmental Education, Teach in UK, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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