What do children learn from gardening? »Magazine»

What do children learn from gardening??

Gardening fascinates and promotes young explorers in a variety of ways

In the past, childhood mostly took place outside: the kids were out in the woods and thickets, running across meadows and fields or helping out in farm and home gardens. Even small children made important experiences in nature and acquired knowledge of animal and plant science in a playful way, but also in physics, technology, chemistry and meteorology. They watched in agriculture and horticulture, knew the sequence of the seasons and knew where the food came from.

The childhood of parents and grandparents is hardly comparable to today’s childhood in urban areas. In the past, a lot took place in the fresh air. Today the children often sit in closed rooms. Instead of raging with contemporaries, people often sit alone in front of the TV or the game console. A common “family garden” with children’s beds and snack hedges can be a sensible alternative because gardening promotes and challenges children in a variety of ways. This article tries to summarize what children can learn from gardening.

The stay in the fresh air not only ensured physical “exhaustion”, but also trained gross and fine motor skills and strengthened the immune system. Most of the activities were done with peers and playmates, so social skills also developed automatically.

Urban childhood: nature experiences are missing

Today, many children no longer live in the country, but in cities. Childhood has changed. Children spend most of the day indoors: be it in kindergarten, at school or in their parents’ apartment. Leisure time is increasingly being spent in front of the television or game console instead of raging on the football field. In addition, parents are reluctant to leave their children unattended and therefore free to play – for fear of accidents and abuse. Due to the urban way of life, however, the connection to nature is increasingly lost. The little ones think a cow is purple and chocolate grows on trees. Even if parents at home, teachers at school and educators in kindergarten try to counteract this, the possibilities of self-experience are limited: seeing, observing and understanding are not always possible: How does grain grow? What does a pig eat? And how does the milk come from the cow and turn into butter? What steps are necessary to turn a seed into a delicious carrot?

In the garden, gray theory becomes practical knowledge

A garden offers the opportunity to have all of these experiences. The children can dig their hands in the earth, romp through the autumn leaves and quietly watch a sparrow mom feeding the offspring. And the nice thing is: parents and children can spend nice hours together in the fresh air and thus escape the closed rooms. A garden for children not only offers activities in nature, but also entertainment and support on a mental and physical level. Children are simply born explorers and the garden is the perfect "zone of discoverers". Children learn quickly by understanding the world sensually. The garden and gardening offer space for playing and learning and thus the best conditions for challenging and encouraging.

Training the senses – learning gardening

Gardening specifically trains the senses, because all the senses are addressed.

  • Smell (sense of smell):
  • Peppermint, thyme and lemon balm smell like?
  • All flowers smell the same?
  • What a freshly cut meadow smells like?
  • Feeling (sense of touch):
    • What does wet earth or an earthworm feel like??
    • Like grass tingling on the soles of bare feet?
    • Caution: spines of roses and blackberries can prick!
    • Seeing (sense of sight):
      • Are all the roses red??
      • Not only in autumn: which leaf colors can the children distinguish?
      • There are colorful vegetables?
      • Hearing:
        • Which bird is chirping there?
        • What rustles there in the grass?
        • How the wind rustles in the trees?
        • Taste (sense of taste):
          • Every apple tastes the same?
          • Can you tell the difference between the taste of raspberries and blackberries??
          • Chives are always hot?
          • In the garden, children can really experience nature up close and collect a variety of sensual and physical experiences. Observing the cycle of nature invites you to do your own experiments. B. how a small pumpkin seed becomes a stately pumpkin, from which not only can a delicious pumpkin soup be cooked, but also a pumpkin lantern carved for Halloween. The garden is a good preparation for life, because it promotes both curiosity and the ability to acquire new knowledge for a lifetime.

            Lifelong learning – learning from gardening

            Children like to question things. Typical children’s questions are, for example, What do flowers need to grow? How do plants drink? How do birds build their nest? How do earthworms live? Why do the leaves fall in autumn?

            In the garden, the growth, ripening and decay can be practically observed throughout the year. It is much more tangible and more tangible for the children than just looking at it in books. When gardening, children find answers to their questions on their own. Here a bee or bumblebee can be watched directly at work and observed how the pollen moves from one flower to the next, that when the flowers are fertilized, fruit buds first form and then seeds and fruits develop.

            The garden offers the opportunity for continuous learning: Spiders, ladybugs and ants can be observed up close. With the help of a magnifying glass, this otherwise hidden world becomes visible. Even small success stories are literally visible: when a small plant becomes something big thanks to proper care – for example a sunflower or a lot of tomatoes.

            Take responsibility – learn from gardening

            The children’s bed is the place in the garden where children can let off steam to their heart’s content. Here they are the "determiners". You can do whatever you want: you can choose the plants for the children’s bed, plant and water them yourself and, of course, harvest them in the end. Caring for your own bed promotes concentration and perseverance, and gardening success boosts self-confidence.

            Not everything will always succeed. After all, gardening is also a challenge: Sometimes the weather is too rainy and too cold, sometimes the snails fall over the lettuce and sometimes a sudden hailstorm in a summer storm destroys the entire harvest. But that is also part of life and can be learned in the garden: dealing with small and large failures and how to continue anyway.

            Gardening promotes motor skills – learning from gardening

            Sowing and pricking promote fine motor skills, because it is not so easy to get a seed or a tiny plant at the right distance into the soil. But not only fine motor skills are required for gardening. A garden offers a lot of possibilities for movement. In addition to the garden shed, the garden also includes a swing and a sandpit. If dad or grandpa is dear, he also builds a gym pole or a trampoline. In addition, there is at least one fruit tree in almost every garden and therefore a great climbing opportunity. And you can also play soccer and badminton on the lawn.

            A garden promotes creativity – learning while gardening

            In the garden it can get really dirty – from the roots of the hair to the toes. There are ramparts and moats in the earth pits. The mud castles are spilled up in the sandpit. There can be no better imagination training for future architects and engineers. For many city children this is a welcome change from the clean city life and more exciting than any television series.

            Many things that you can collect and find in the garden are perfect handicraft material and also encourage creativity: Colorful flowers can be used to conjure up a flower chain or a mandala. Fir cones and found feathers become animals, and chestnuts and thin branches become the famous chestnut males. Flowers and leaves can be collected, pressed and later put together to form pictures, cards and tags. A larger bird’s house or an insect hotel is created from sawn-out larger branches.

            Conclusion: What children can learn from gardening

            Children can learn 1001 things and skills from gardening. Therefore, a children’s bed should actually be in every garden. But schools and kindergartens should also use the potential of gardening for funding and at least tackle project days related to gardening if there is no space for a school garden or a kindergarten garden. But even the smallest patch of earth can actually be used thanks to the "Vertical Gardens" and "Urban Gardening". Vegetables like lettuce, radishes or kohlrabi, herbs like parsley, chives and dill or fruits like strawberries and cranberries can grow in the balcony box or tubs on the terrace on the ground floor or the balcony on the sixth floor. The garden cress pot on the windowsill in the kitchen is also a first step in introducing children to gardening.

            Saying of the week

            The possibilities lie in the middle of the difficulties


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            Christina Cherry
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