One thing that I’ve found throughout my teaching career and especially in the last few months, with the installation of our American Heart Association Teaching Garden is that outdoor learning is an important part of children’s development. When kids are outside and away from the fluorescent lighting and four walls that make up their classroom, it frees them. Working outdoors is more relaxing and engaging. Teachers can teach a wide range of curriculum and incorporate many concepts in an outdoor setting. Students can investigate, explore and take part in hands on learning that can’t be provided by a book, a video or a lecture. Working in an outdoor environment creates that “being there” experience that locks in learning for our kids.
With hands on learning, you can meet the needs of many kinds of students to reinforce and apply their learning. Students who lack confidence in a classroom can be leaders when they are in the garden. The garden gives kids success, builds their self-esteem and gives them a place that they can be proud of. Kids who learn differently, have reading challenges or who need to move quite a bit greatly benefit from an outdoor garden curriculum as well. They can see science in the making, witness the beautiful colors of a wildflower bed, dig in the dirt, watch preying mantis, butterflies and aphids in their habitats and contribute to the garden in many ways. All students can work cooperatively while taking on different roles and responsibilities that aren’t available in a classroom setting. It offers variety and endless opportunities for learning and growth.
Our school garden connects parents, teachers and students in ways that I have never seen before. Everyone is a part of our garden. From planting seeds, moving mulch, trimming out dead leaves, watering or just reaping the harvest, there are no prerequisites or standards set in place to limit anyone. It is a fair game and a place for all to shine. Get going and get those kids out in the dirt to dig in!
Guest Blogger: Kim Aman
A public school teacher working towards integrating school curriculum and farming at Moss Haven Elementary School.
Blog: http:// mosshavenfarm.blogspot.com
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