Summer Gardening - The Outdoor Classroom
- Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Studies Support the use of the Garden for Educating Children
Maria Montessori, five-time Nobel Prize nominee for her well-documented observations on the ways children learn, also used horticulture as a springboard for educating.
She found that "individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, the virtue of children acting on their environment." Dr. Montessori believed that with the tireless interest children have in manipulating materials, they would be stimulated to learn if a great emphasis was put first on use of their God-given senses and curiosities. Reading skills developed more naturally afterwards.
She concluded that only through movement and manipulation, through thinking with the senses, does the child proceed toward abstract thinking and logical thought.
The Effects of a Garden on Your Health and Medical Bills
The garden has a strong competitor these days: the local supermarket. What a convenience! Hop in the car, run to the store, buy processed; easy to cook, eat and run meals; less work; more time and easier days.
But are the days easier? Statistics now report that one out of every three American suffers from cancer, children included. Depression, weight gain, anger, and lascivious behavior are earmarks of this generation. Have we lost vision? We've traded productivity for ease, idle time and couch potato activities that satisfy only for the moment.
Gardening has the potential to reintroduce and establish the satisfaction that comes from healthy, functional, character-building activity. Not only is it a well-established fact that gardening has a calming effect on the mind and heart which strengthens resistance to disease, but it provides building blocks necessary for good health. Foods are at their peak of nutritional value when freshly picked. In the time it takes to deliver harvested foods to the market place, air and light are destroying their vitamin content. (Cabbage loses all its vitamin C content in two weeks!). The heavy use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers that are a necessity for commercial farming is avoidable.
We may not escape everything, but a small garden can go a long way towards keeping our children in touch with a way of health and happiness.
Gardening is an easy skill to learn. It's handy, inexpensive, attractive, and reaps generous returns for your investment of time. If limited space is a factor for you, many plants can be grown up stakes or trellises, even in containers, with a remarkably bountiful harvest! I hope you'll give gardening a chance to share its wealth with you. Start out small; learn and grow together.
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