Colleen Alexander is our guest blogger today and our garden advisor here at Via Vita Academy! Through her studies in Master Gardening, Colleen shares our passion for growing a new generation of garden-smart, healthy citizens. Stay tuned for her update posts on our garden as our students get growing!
Does this sound familiar to you?
Eat your veggies!
Turn off the TV and go outdoors to play!
I wish you would help around the house more often!
Why can’t you be kinder to your brother?
If you said “Yes!” to one or more of these complaints, then your family might benefit from a garden.
Gardens are living laboratories where life lessons come from hands-on experience. They provide a unique opportunity to help children observe, discover, experience, nurture and learn to take responsibility for tasks and outcomes.
Think it won’t work for you and your offspring? Then read on!
As a life-long gardener, it has been my experience that most youth and virtually all young children become curious and enthusiastic when spending time in the garden tending plants and growing food. And I’m happy to report that there is a growing body of research to prove that I’m right!
Studies show that gardening can help improve life-long nutrition, encourage more active lifestyles and build critical life skills in children. Whether it is potatoes grown in bags on a patio or a large one at school, any garden can be an invaluable tool to help your child get off to a great start in life.
Health and nutrition
Children who plant, grow, harvest and prepare fresh vegetables and fruit become excited about the opportunity to eat them. In light of the increased rates of obesity and childhood diabetes, many parents, teachers and policy makers are turning to gardens as an effective way to tackle these challenges.
Using a garden to provide enhanced nutrition education is a profoundly engaging and effective way to establish healthy eating habits and food choices.
A garden-based nutrition program that includes direct instruction and hands-on activities has been shown to increase children’s understanding of the relationship between food and their health.
Start early! Positive eating habits that are established before the 6th grade are more likely to continue into adulthood.
Regular physical activity in children develops strength, bone density and cardiovascular fitness, and helps prevent chronic illness like cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life. Gardening provides a unique opportunity to get kids moving while they learn curriculum based subjects and develop life skills.
A 2014 study by Cornell University revealed that learning that takes place in a garden resulted in children who were “significantly more physically active” compared to an indoor class. Further, these children were substantially less sedentary at home and outside school than their peers in conventional learning environments.
Studies have shown that school gardens can improve academic achievement, encourage community and social development, and connect children with global and local issues.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension research has also found that students who participate in gardening develop new learning styles and curiosity, critical thinking, informed skepticism, flexibility and open-mindedness.
So, what have you got to lose?
Introduce your child to gardening. You might be surprised by what you grow!
Together ,with Colleen Alexander, teachers, students, friends, and families, Via Vita Academy maintains its own year-round school garden. Planning, planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, preserving, sharing - the school garden is tended to by all of its members and is utilized daily as a valuable learning resource. To learn more about Via Vita Academy, click here.
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