You homeschool, and it’s no easy task, I know. So why exactly do you want to add ‘teaching your kids to garden’ to the list of knowledge you are trying to imbue them with? As a homeschooling mom I know the to-do’s are never-ending, and the skills and knowledge you want them to learn are never-ending as well. There are many skills kids today could benefit from, and yes teaching kids to garden is one. However the amazing thing is that gardening has so many secrets, hidden gems if you will. Soon you will be digging up the back yard planting a learning garden and you will never look back!
The impacts of gardening reach far beyond eating healthy fruits and veggies. From extended amounts of sunshine, to enhanced learning abilities, knowledge about plants to experiencing the plant life cycle, gardening, and teaching that skill to children, is packed full benefits.
There is much to be said for the health impacts gardening has on all people but especially kids. Yes we all know eating fresh veggies is good for us, is that where it ends? Nope! Have you heard of grounding?
Grounding (or earthing)
You know that old saying about ‘God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt’ (not sure about you, my grandma said that often), turns out its true. Science is coming out and explaining things I thought were just my crazy grandmother talking. Grounding or earthing is the practice of coming in contact with the surface of the earth, you know getting to the ground, getting your hands dirty. It is actually very good for you!
Our modern lifestyles often remove us from contact with the earth. We may go for days, weeks or even months from actually touching the surface of the earth (of course depending on where you live). And really that is not a good thing.
To understand more on the science behind this Dr Briffa gives us a deeper look
“During the normal processes of metabolism the body generates what are called ‘reactive oxygen species’ which are commonly referred to as ‘free radicals’. These compounds appear to be important, at least in part because they have the ability to attack and destroy unwanted things within the body including bacteria and viruses. However, too many free radicals are a bad thing, and have been implicated in chronic disease and well as the very process of ageing.
Free radicals are involved in the process known as inflammation, which is part of the healing process. However, low-grade inflammation throughout the body may lead to pain and other problems in the muscles and joints, and is also believed to be a key driving factor in many chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In short, we want free radicals, but not too many.
Free radicals lack sparks of energy known as ‘electrons’. One way to quell them is to give them electrons, and these can be supplied by nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E, and plant substances known as ‘polyphenols’ (found in, among other things, tea, coffee, cocoa and apples). However, substances we eat and drink are not the only way to get electrons into the body: earthing does this too. If the body has a positive charge on it, earthing allows electrons to flow into the body where, in theory, they can neutralise overblown free radical and inflammatory damage.”
Grounding or earthing is a constant while kids are learning to grow in their very own learning garden. Gardening and having regular contact with the earth and soil, really does rejuvenate us at a much deeper level, Something that can not be easily replicated in any artificial way.
While we Americans are used to pouring tons of tax dollars into top-notch school buildings. Research is showing that not only doesn’t improve learning but actually hinders it.
According to attention restoration theory focus and attention are greatly improved after a time in, and surrounded by, nature and greenery. What science is now pointing to is that the usual learning environments increase symptoms of ADD/ ADHD, aggression, anxiety and more. While the cure is found in the opposite, learning in a natural environment.
The only source of knowledge is experience. ~Albert Einstein
Yes we can teach the life cycle of a plant in a class room. Yes, they will understand the concept. And, Yes a bean seed in a glass jar makes for a wonderful picture of how a bean sprouts. But that is not really experiencing it, that’s just a sterile classroom environment. A bag of potting soil and a few seeds is not science. That can not fully embrace all that nature can show us. Life, and learning can be so much richer than that!
Children, like adults, need experiences they can be proud of. A child who gets the chance to grow something they later get to eat, let me tell you that makes for an extremely proud child. Plant some kale, lettuce and carrots and you will have a child who is so excited to eat a salad!
Kids these days have so much trying for their attention (much like the rest of us). However setting aside our artificial indoor environments for a while to return to nature is scientifically proven to have innumerable benefits. Whether for learning, restoring focus or creating a peaceful mind homeschool gardening or a learning garden can aid our kids today, in so many ways. There is truly no way to put a price on healthy home-grown food, time spent in nature, a balanced mind and body, or wonderful experiences. As spring comes around this year, why not build a raised garden bed, label it a ‘learning garden’ and go have some real life experiments!
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