Gardening is a great way for adults to grow organic fruits and vegetables plus save grocery money throughout the year.
What about teaching the kids about gardening and where the food they eat comes from?
I believe that budgeting should be taught at school because some parents just don’t understand the financial concept of spending less than they earn. If you are a financial nerd like I am you will agree that teaching kids about money from a young age is important.
If the education system could include every day living financial knowledge then maybe we wouldn’t have so many people swimming in consumer debt. Maybe your school does this already but not many do. Basic math isn’t enough.
Why stop there though?
Why not make school fun and educational at the same time by teaching other basic life skills such as gardening. I’m not talking about teaching kids to be master gardeners just the simple process of growing food from seed.
Gardening when I was a kid
When I went to school although it’s a different system in the UK I can remember between the ages of 6 and 8 planting and growing seeds in school. We used to grow simple things like garden cress and mustard cress in little trays that we would label with our names.
My teachers didn’t necessarily teach us how to grow vegetables in an outdoor garden rather we did it all indoors. Just because you don’t have a garden outside you can still garden in small spaces indoors.
Our gardening pots were left in the classroom on the window ledge and every day you were responsible for watering it and turning it around. When the plants were fully grown we would bring them home to our parents. “Look what I grew mummy” I would happily say.
Yes, I still remember that.
It wasn’t for a particular subject that we grew the plants it was just a kids activity that our teacher planned that year. Not everyone’s plants survived but I specifically remember my teacher saying that it was our responsibility to care for it.
What I learned from the gardening activity was that I was able to grow something on my own but most of all it took a long time. A long time to a kid might be weeks although adult gardeners know that your fruits and veg aren’t going to be ready a week after you plant them.
Today my sister says they participate as a family in a community garden and the children are involved from the beginning to the end. It’s a much more elaborate garden than growing plants indoors when I was a kid but it’s certainly given them a platform to grow with.
There’s not as much space in the UK as there is in Canada so we should be taking advantage of what we have and utilizing it to the fullest capacity.
When I asked my wife about her experiences of gardening as a child she couldn’t remember any type of gardening happening at school.
Her father on the hand was and still what I would consider a master gardener including flowers. He has a massive garden, greenhouse and plenty of fruit trees on his property. I’m not even going to get into the herb garden and flowers he has on the property because he is set up for everything.
Needless to say he believes in growing your own food from seeds because we should know where our food comes from and understand how to grow it.
Most of all he likes to do it as a hobby and to get exercise. He taught my wife so much about gardening and when I asked him about whether he thought kids should be taught gardening at school this was his response.
Kids today are more worried about their video games, cell phones and social media so that tomorrow’s children will lack the simple knowledge of fending for themselves if they had to. We all have to eat and if we don’t know how to grow food by gardening and foraging how else will they appreciate what our lands offer us?
Spring gardening and your kids
Now that the Spring 2015 is around the corner in Canada many gardeners will start their Spring garden using containers from all over the house.
If you have kids this is a great time to get them involved with the process especially if your child’s school doesn’t teach gardening. You’d be surprised to see that your child might actually enjoy learning about growing plants.
If there are Canadian schools who have adopted gardening into the education system it’s pretty hush-hush because I struggled to find any information about it online.
If you think your kids won’t like gardening as it’s too much work don’t be the parents that make up their minds for them. If you try it once or twice and they don’t care for it at least you gave them the knowledge they need to get started if it intrigues them.
Bring your child with you to buy your gardening seeds and have them pick out what they would like to try and grow based on climate and season.
Explain to them what it means when you read the seed packet and how a certain fruit or vegetable needs to be planted and taken care of.
It’s one thing to show your child what to do but it’s another when you allow them the hands on experience along with educating them with what you know.
Gardening and the education system in Canada
Should Canadian schools implement gardening into the curriculum?
Sure… we have to eat so why not teach them how to grow their own food. Hypothetical but you watched the movie “Cast Away“… just saying. You never know what might happen and how these skills might help save your life.
It might be a bit challenging to start gardening at school unless of course your school has a greenhouse where you can grow almost anything year-round.
Some vegetables and fruits may not be ready to harvest until the kids are out for summer but don’t let that stop you as a teacher. There are plenty of herbs and quick growing plants that you can work with.
If space is a concern for an outdoor garden the kids could create their own gardening pots like I did when I was in school and leave them on the window to take care of them.
The teacher could also invite professional gardeners in to speak to the students which would give them an even better knowledge point. I’m sure there would be plenty of organizations that would donate their time to educate kids about gardening.
Another option is to start gardening in the Spring and have volunteers from the class rotate each week to come and water the outdoor garden or indoor plants.
This teaches the children responsibility and they might even treat this as their summer job without pay of course but the experience is valuable. Someone needs to weed the plants so why not allow the kids to learn about weeds, dirt and seasonal changes with-in our climate.
Another perk to kids gardening would be a sense of accomplishment they feel when it’s harvest time and they eat the food they grew.
Gardening also brings the kids together and builds a sense of community with-in the school system. It may also encourage team-building from a young age which will go a long way later in life.
So what benefits would a child get from learning about gardening at school?
Nutrition and Healthy Living
Developing healthy eating habits from a young age is crucial to what happens when the child gets older. Experimenting with different fruits and vegetables might be easier if the child learns to grow them on their own. It’s not only a sense of pride but they want to try what they’ve grown.
Healthy living begins at home and with that I mean eating healthy foods and nutrition education. This is another great reason to start gardening in the schools because teachers can teach the children about how to make better food choices.
Some schools have cooking classes and teach the students about the Canada Food Guide which is great but lets dig a bit deeper into nature and our food sources.
Patience and Team building
Let’s be honest, not many kids have patience in fact they don’t even know what the word means sometimes. Life is chaotic at best for a child because they are naturally inquisitive and want to learn and go, go, go all the time.
I remember my sister-in-law always telling her son that he needs to have patience and now that we have our son I understand why.
Simple, no-fuss easy gardening with kids will not only motivate their team-building spirit if they work in groups but initiate patience to look after the plants and watch them grow.
Although kids at a young age don’t pay for everyday expenses gardening will help them to understand just how much work goes into growing certain foods and how it can save you money in the long run.
Don’t assume they will know, teach them.
If we didn’t grow our own herb garden every summer that would cost a fortune in the grocery store. You may find if you take your kids grocery shopping they may just be more alert to the prices of the foods they grow. “Wow look mom it costs x amount to buy these apples”.
If you have a rain barrel and time you can grow just about anything for a fraction of the cost of what you pay at the grocery store and it tastes 100% better.
This ties in with the obesity levels and the fact that many of us eat too much. If we can implement daily activity in our lives along with healthy eating it may help us to maintain a healthy weight.
The best part about gardening like cleaning your house or any other indoor/outdoor activities is that it is a great way to get your physical activity in for the day.
If you’ve never gardened before let me tell you that it takes quite a bit out of you physically. Gardening entails planting, watering, weeding and harvesting all of which takes lots of work.
Let your kids be part of your routine.
Get the kids out from in front of the television, put down the video games and shut off Facebook and start getting active outside with your kids.
You may not think that they will benefit but years from now like my wife remembers gardening with her father they will reminisce about that of their parents
Environmental and Nature Education
Environmental education surrounding gardening and growing plants seems to be solely based around planting trees because they “clean the air” we breathe. The dumping of waste products is bad news so recycling is high on the agenda for education.
Though most of the breathable oxygen is generated by plankton blooms, nothing is really discussed about the unassuming organisms in school.
Recycling is only good if the products are actually re-used. There are certain items that our city will not accept in the recycling program because they cannot generate any income from it.
Even though they keep drilling recycling into the children’s heads the truth about what happens to it is not necessarily the same.
Proper education about reducing packaging and consuming less would probably be better. Being more aware of the contributions you make to this world and the consequences of your actions.
You may think that there is no room for gardening in the classroom because it can be taught at home and it’s a waste of time. I disagree because just like budgeting not all parents grasp finance so how can they teach their children?
The same applies with gardening so kids are able to grow their own food by teaching these life skills. It’s an endless education loop on a topic that we need to survive as humans.
Even if the education system in Canada isn’t willing to fund a gardening program for the kids at least allowing gardening projects throughout the year is better than nothing at all.
Have your kids participated in any gardening projects at school or do they actively teach gardening to the students?
What about when you were a child can you remember learning about gardening or participating in-school?
Is gardening important to you as a parent to be taught to your children in school?
If you are in the USA please share your thoughts if your child’s school teaches gardening.
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