Apart from children getting dirty and being in touch with the land as they garden and plant vegetables, they learn valuable lessons along the way…. patience, caring, nurturing life and even loss as the plants cycle finishes. The importance of introducing gardening to young children will nurture their respect for the natural environment whilst teaching them about healthy food. As they grow their own food they learn about what sustains life on earth.
The Early Years Learning Framework provide Early Childhood educators with tools to support children to become socially responsible and show respect for the environment. Educators role model respect and constantly embed sustainable practices throughout the children’s daily routines. They share information with the children whilst allowing them to explore, care and learn from the land.
At Spunky Monkeys, the educator’s and the children are actively working towards a respect and greater understanding of caring for our natural environment. We also work alongside our local council’s bushcare program who visits monthly, teaching the children about our indigenous flora and fauna.
Recent articles by Nimali Fernando and Melanie Potock, noted that for many young children exploring in the garden, it is the processes involved, such as digging, planting and watering that will benefit more than the result itself. Additionally, an important component of young children being engaged with gardening is that they learn and gain an understanding of where food comes from and can assimilate to the produce they see at the supermarket. This may promote children to ask questions and even try new foods.
Further benefits can be extended to sustainable practices such as composting and Worm farms. The children can witness and observe changes to organic material, paper and food waste whilst recycling and reducing waste which can be turned into nutrients for the soil. The children at Spunky Monkeys reuse our food scraps which are sorted and placed in our compost bin or worm farm which can then be used as a fertiliser for our edible garden.
Fernando MD, MPH. N, & MA, CCC-SLP. Gardening with Kids: How it affects your child’s brain, body and soul. Retrived from: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/03/gardening-kids-affects-childs-brain-body-soul/
DEEWR, 2009. Being, Belonging & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework. Commonwealth of Australia. Barton, ACT.