While science and ecology might be the obvious garden subjects, a school or home garden can also provide an environment to support lessons in math, history, art, and social skills.
Science and nutrition: Nurturing plants from seed to harvest is exciting! Eating a tomato grown in your own garden is rewarding! Eating fruits and vegetables may contribute to the prevention of many diseases, however children often do not eat enough of these foods. Participating in gardening increases awareness of where healthy foods come from, resulting in increased consumption of fruits and vegetables during early childhood and adolescents.
Research shows that students participating in garden activities may reap many benefits, such as
- A willingness to taste new fruits and vegetables, especially among younger children
- An increase in overall fruit and vegetable intake
- An improvement in nutrition knowledge
Overall, children that gardened were more willing to eat nutritious food, try unfamiliar food, had a greater likelihood of cooking and gardening, and expressed a greater appreciation for other individuals and cultures.
Social skills: Additional benefits of gardening include the ability to improve life skills, including working with groups and self-understanding.
History: Children can discover the origins of gardening and design around the globe, from pre-historic forest making to agricultural and ornamental processes.
Art: Garden art nurtures creativity and imagination. Children can create their own planter boxes, paint a garden sign, or add character with small personal touches (colored glass, sea shells, etc).
Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services
Image by Dr. Willard’s