Gardening can get your students outside and away from screens while also offering a valuable educational tool. Gardening can be used to cover various aspects of the school curriculum and is a good way to cut your school’s carbon footprint.
Using gardening as a learning tool, you can teach students about good nutritional habits, respect for the Earth, and native versus invasive plant species and what they do to the local habitat. Besides, by getting students to participate in planting and maintaining the garden, they are engaging in physical activity and spending time outdoors.
Here are ten tips for gardening with students.
The garden is an extension of the classroom. As such, it is necessary for there to be some rules in place. Make sure students know what is expected of them in terms of actions and behaviour. Work together with students to establish the rules for the garden, since students are more likely to respond positively to rules they helped establish. Some ideas for rules include walking rather than running, using tools appropriately, and sticking to pathways to avoid trampling the plants.
To align with the rules you establish, and to provide students with the freedom to explore, make pathways in the garden. There must be a place to walk between the plants so that students can feel comfortable and welcome in the garden. These pathways should be clear and obvious so that students are completely aware of where they should and shouldn’t put their feet. Pathways also make the garden more accessible for harvest and maintenance purposes, so they are essential to actually using the garden effectively.
Students are inherently curious. Telling them not to play in the soil or not to examine different rocks will stunt their curiosity. Allow space and time for the students to explore the garden and everything in it. Let them dig in the soil, play with the worms and bugs, and collect and examine rocks. Students will want to know everything there is to know about the different elements of a garden, so make sure you are ready to field their questions and explore unknowns together.
Once you have started the gardening process, it is not enough to ask a groundsman to water it once a week or check for weeds. Draw up a list of activities such as weeding, watering, pruning and trimming, and establish a list of student volunteers for each activity each week. While you might need to take extra time out of your day to observe and monitor these activities, you can rest assured that you are teaching responsibility and care to your students.
Telling a student how to dig a hole or use the pitchfork to turn and loosen the soil might not be enough for them to understand. When working on an activity with physical aspects, it is best to demonstrate what you want. By demonstrating, students can see and employ your technique. The demonstration also increases safety. Since students are less likely to use bad techniques that could hurt themselves or those around them. If, for some reason, you can’t demonstrate an action, show them a picture of the action instead.
Once again, aimlessly meandering around a garden provides no meaning for your students and is a waste of time for everyone. It is important to connect the garden with the curriculum. Use it to educate on healthy eating, good ecological practices, decreasing a carbon footprint, protecting natural resources, as well as parts of plants, habitats, and essential life processes. Students will learn these theoretical aspects better by seeing it in practice, and the garden will be a place of educational significance. To help them write great essays on environment and related issues and also to ensure that their academic schedule is not disturbed, choose local assignment writing service. EduBirdie UK is a top choice for many parents for their children’s assignments like homework and term papers.
In addition to outlining the tasks that need to be completed in the garden regularly, you need to establish a routine. Set aside time each day or each week where you and the students go to the garden together. Use this time to check that all the necessary activities such as weeding and watering are up to date, as well as to discuss the progress of the garden and the next steps. Establishing this routine also means students are likely to be dressed in appropriate gardening gear.
Letting the students know that they will work in a garden and follow a set of rules while doing so is only part of the process. It is important to establish your expectations for short and long term goals. Students need to know what is expected of them every time they visit the garden, as well as what the final outcome should be. Without these expectations, the gardening process can feel aimless and might lose its success when students feel like they’re just heading outside to look at some plants each week.
While some tasks might be dangerous or inappropriate for students, it is important to involve them in every step of the process. When you need a task done in the garden, explain to them what they should do, show them how to do it, and explain why it needs doing. Involving the students in this way gets them excited to learn and participate, and can ensure that your garden is a success.
Students may be interested in playing in the dirt. Rather than telling them not to, ensure that they are dressed appropriately and allow enough time to clean up afterwards. Dirt is essential to learning, gardening, and fun. Besides, as long as there are no health issues, there is no harm in a little dirt on the students’ clothes or skin. Use the washing up process to teach appropriate hygiene practices to ensure everyone cleans well enough after gardening.
Gardening is a useful tool in expanding the curriculum to a practical aspect. Students get to see what they are learning in action, as well as actively participating in the learning process. The students will be excited and proud of their involvement, and your school is taking real steps to reduce your carbon footprint and reducing the effects of climate change. Additionally, teaching students how to garden properly gives them real skills that they can apply at home, which may be helpful in sustaining food supply for their families.
Elizabeth Skinner is an academic writer and editor working for an online assignment service for college students. She also has rich experience as a competitive exam tutor to help students secure places in top universities. When she’s not working, she likes to do gardening, read non-fiction and learn to play the piano.