School Gardening Enhances Academic, Social, and Physical Skills in Children, Says Report

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Images from RHS

Forget about playing Mozart when the baby is in the womb--start a school garden instead! A new report from the Royal Horticultural Society has found that when children work in school gardens they develop increased life skills, greater literacy and numeracy and are more responsive to the challenges of adult life. Sounds like we all need to work in one....

Carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research , the report surveyed 1,300 teachers and studied 10 schools ranging from those in inner city to small villages. It makes a strong argument for the academic, social and physical benefits of a garden plot.

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The report concluded that the young students gain better scientific knowledge, greater literacy skills, and increased understanding of food production. Here's the list of benefits, not to be ignored:

Greater scientific knowledge and understanding.
Enhanced literacy and numeracy, including the use of a wider vocabulary and
greater oracy skills.
Increased awareness of the seasons and understanding of food production.
Increased confidence, resilience and self-esteem.
Development of physical skills, including fine motor skills.
Development of a sense of responsibility.
A positive attitude to healthy food choices.
Positive behaviour.
Improvements in emotional well-being.

A nice spill-over effect was that children became so enthusiastic that they wanted to start gardens at home as well. Needless to say, working on a home garden means less time spent at the computer or watching the television. Now that we are convinced, what can we do to advance the cause? There are a number of organisations, both in the UK and the USA that are working on school gardens.

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In the UK, the Royal Horticultural Society has a Campaign for School Gardening which encourages schools to participate. They provide information for teachers and students about how to get started and how to progress. So far 12,000 school are involved. Over the next three years they will be training 4,500 to become active participants.

In the USA, the National Gardening Association has created a website which provides a wealth of information for teachers and parents, including research on the subject and all kinds of tips.

More on Children and Gardening
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Kids Take a Bite out of Local Schoolyard

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