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Educating Our Children

Whether you're a parent, an educator or a mentor, you are likely concerned about the effects this modern world is having on our young children. These young minds are the future, our legacy. But what inheritance are we passing on to them?

The True Price of Technology

Let's just look at one single area of innovation: Technology. Have you seen a toddler learning to navigate an iPad or tablet? These young minds are sponges learning not just knowledge, but attitudes & mindsets. Technology has brought many blessings to humanity, but it's come at a price.

Are smart phones making us dumber? Or are they simply making us lazier? In particular, what about patience? Everything is available right now, at our fingertips. No waiting. And no work required. Do you want THAT to be the dominant attitude of your kids? What can temper the "instant gratification" mindset fostered by technology?

Maintaining Balance Through Gardening

How can we round out a child's education & personality? In the winter you flip through a catalog & select the seeds you won't actually plant until MONTHS later. You prepare the soil. You plant a seed... and you wait... and wait. Planning. Patience.

Gardening will enhance the values of developing children. It teaches them about real life cause and effect relationships. They learn the value of hard work and the rewards that result. It works because gardening creates a stimulating learning environment that has been shown to outperform traditional classroom settings.

Learning through gardening get results. The general public is slowly catching on and in many places we are seeing programs designed to educate children through the garden setting. The Natural Learning Initiative promotes "the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children, through environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information." The Gardens for Learning grant program "provides a unique opportunity for participating communities to support summer gardening, nutrition, and cooking programs for children at risk of summertime hunger." Are there any programs in your area?

Vital Lessons Learned from Nature

FOOD PRODUCTION: Do you think kids would benefit if they understood where our food comes from? Imagine their excitement as they learn to harvest and then eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Lessons could be taught in preservation and in the cooking of your home-grown produce. Realizing the work that goes into agriculture can foster an appreciation for food resources, curtailing wastefulness.

ECOLOGY: Are you concerned about our environment and the future of our planet? Gardening is the perfect platform for learning conservation and practicing recycling. You can teach a child about the seasons and how they drive the natural life cycles of plants and animals. You help youths to observe the damage caused by climate change. This then underscores the need for sustainable practices.

MATH AND SCIENCE: Gardening builds math skills involving measuring and calculating, and even economics. It allows you to design. To build. Gardeners become science students of Botany, Horticulture & Entomology. Applied knowledge is retained knowledge. It stays with a young mind, exerting an influence well into adult life.

BUILDING RESILIENCY: Do you contend with a fear of gardening failure? When you approach gardening with a scientific mind, failures disappear. We try something. We record what we did. Then we note the results. Good results? Let's do it again! Bad results? Well, that's not a failure. -It's a learning opportunity. Now we know what DOESN'T work!

These are life-long lessons that stay with us. We may learn intellectually, but we also broaden our view of the world around us. We develop traits that can enhance us as human beings. Isn't this a legacy worth passing on?

For in-depth reading about garden-based learning in basic education: http://www.fao.org/3/a-aj462e.pdf


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