Community and social development lessons do not receive the attention of academic achievement, but they are as crucial to the survival of our country as reading and writing. Children must learn how to take responsibility for their environment and develop a strong sense of community to ensure the continuation of our society.
Gardens create opportunities for students to work cooperatively and to take on responsibilities. They will quickly learn the negative consequences associated with forgetting to water their plants on a hot day and will work hard to make sure it does not happen again. The plants will also provide positive reinforcement in response to proper care by growing or producing fruits, contributing to development of a good work ethic. On a personal level, gardening builds confidence, self-esteem, and pride as the students watch their efforts turn into beautiful and productive gardens. It also teaches them patience as they wait for a seedling to sprout or a tomato to ripen.
Gardens provide unique opportunities for cross-generational connections. While gardening, children interact with teachers, parents and community volunteers providing opportunities for social interaction often missing in our society because of hectic schedules and the role of technology. The garden provides children opportunities to ask questions, share thoughts and work cooperatively toward a common goal.
Through a garden, students help to beautify the school grounds. For many, it is their only chance to contribute positively to their environment. The praise they receive from other students, parents, teachers and community members will create a sense of community spirit and introduce them to the benefits of volunteering.
Above all, gardening is fun and is a skill that, once acquired, can be a lifelong hobby. Spending time outside, exploring in the soil, watching seeds grow, and harvesting the bounty can be enjoyable and memorable ways for students to spend their time