Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:32 pm
The nature-oriented garden is a valuable learning space for the school. Here, nature can be experienced with all the senses: The scent of lemon balm, the taste of raspberries, the buzz of bees, the colors of flowers, the warmth of fresh compost. A naturally designed school garden is a learning and experience space that invites children to go on a journey of discovery.
It invites you to observe, marvel, explore, play, design, work and enjoy. Working in the school garden enables holistic learning with “head, heart and hand” and creates a balance to cognitive learning.
From an educational point of view, the school garden has been a sometimes more more or less respected place of learning. It may be surprising – or perhaps just not -, that since the beginning of the 21st century, the garden has experienced a renaissance in schools. renaissance in schools since the beginning of the 21st century, even though the new without the new media. Countless new possibilities for teaching are offered.
The world can be brought into the classroom at the touch of a finger. Digitalization is triggering rapid changes in the economy and society. Many children spend a lot of time indoors or in urban areas, surrounded by countless technical technical aids. The real and fictional worlds are merging more and more.
This opens up countless possibilities and poses new challenges. In the context of these changes, the analog and direct relationship to nature is becoming nature is gaining in importance. Hands-on gardening enables children not only to manual skills and build up their scientific knowledge, but also to scientific knowledge, but also to develop their social skills, to take responsibility responsibility, demonstrate perseverance, and much more. In the garden and in the discussion of numerous topics related to the school garden, practice and theory are combined. practice and theory are linked.
In the concrete work, subjects and disciplines merge. disciplines merge. Interconnections and interrelationships become natural and can be and can be experienced. Learning directly in the garden habitat makes cycles, interdependencies and interactions and interdependencies, and biological diversity and species richness become visible. It senses are awakened, the eye is sharpened and thinking and acting are stimulated.
However, the aim is not to turn away from the future and the technical possibilities, but to use the potential of sensory and aesthetic experience and and aesthetic experience in the school garden and especially the combination of analog and digital digital working methods as enrichment. But it must not be concealed: Running a school garden is very obligatory. It requires commitment and perseverance as well as time and financial resources. resources. In return, a living and educational space with immense potential unfolds on the school’s doorstep (or in the immediate vicinity). living and educational space with immense potential.
In addition to the already mentioned scientific aspects and the social and practical skills that can be worked on and practiced in the school garden. and practical skills that can be practiced in the school garden, there are many interdisciplinary and cross-curricular, very practical considerations and approaches for the classroom.
Nowhere do students experience the interconnectedness of all living things and their self-efficacy more clearly than in a garden. Exercise in the fresh air clears the mind and gardening teaches motor, sensory and social skills.
School garden – but why?
An old European proverb says: “If you want to be happy all your life, plant a garden”. There’s a lot of truth in that, since gardening stimulates all the senses: fragrant, colorful blossoms, the buzzing of bees and chirping of birds, sweet-tasting berries, wind and sun on the skin. As a break from the classroom and digital media consumption, the fresh air frees the mind and grounds young people. However, school gardens also fulfill important educational missions.
Environmental education: ecological processes such as reproduction, growth or decay can be observed throughout the year. Natural laws, seasons, and weather phenomena show their full effect in the natural environment of a garden.
Nutrition Education: When shopping at the supermarket, we are often unaware of how much time and labor goes into producing fruits and vegetables. Food waste, balanced diets, and sustainable consumption can be best addressed in the school garden.
Social skills: From strength to dexterity, planning skills and gumption – everyone* can recognize and develop their own strengths in the school garden. In addition, soft skills such as teamwork, commitment, perseverance and a willingness to take responsibility are trained in such a community project.
A school garden comes into being
Even before the season starts, the first concepts should be in place. One elementary question is: “organic” or “conventional”? The advantages of an organic garden outweigh the disadvantages, since the natural cycles are allowed to run undisturbed without chemicals and the students do not come into contact with potentially harmful substances.
The next consideration relates to the elements in the school garden. Do the plants grow in (raised) beds, planting bags or pots? Are there suitable places for berry bushes and fruit trees? Where is there a water supply or well? And where is a shady place for the compost? In addition, insects, hedgehogs and co. are happy to have sufficient wildlife habitat.
In early spring it should be clear whether young plants should be bought or seeds sown. The latter is particularly instructive and exciting for the students, as they experience the entire cycle of “life” from seed germination to harvest. Chard, lettuce, tomatoes and many other crops can be grown in a warm, bright, sheltered place as early as February/March before moving out into the garden after the Ice Saints, starting around mid-May.
Tip: Some organic seed producers support ecological projects, such as school gardens, with free seeds. It is worth making an inquiry.
An important point to remember is vacation planning. Volunteers need to be available for plant care assignments during vacations in the summer months.
In terms of safety.
The school garden is not a playground but a school learning space where rules apply, just as they do in the classroom. Above all, these revolve around the safety of plants, animals and people. It is advisable to take the children or young people on a tour every now and then and discuss the sources of danger:
- How do I treat plants and animals respectfully?
- What am I allowed to touch, pick, eat?
- What poisonous and dangerous plants are there?
- How do I handle garden tools and equipment?
- What are the hygiene rules?
Whether as a producer or consumer, we are all connected to the cultivation of edible plants; we cannot live without them. In a humorous and practical way, Peter Lange shows how important a school garden is for children and the whole school organism. His list of arguments is an encouragement for all those who already maintain a school garden but also for those who dream of one.
Relationship to nature
At a time when the connection to nature is increasingly being lost, it is important to make children and young people aware of our natural foundations of life. Many are surprised when they find a smell or taste they know from their everyday life on a plant in our herb patch: Peppermint reminds them of toothpaste, sage of cough drops, lavender of soap, oregano of pizza … Making your own everyday items such as marigold ointment, peppermint tea, jams encourages classifying and linking thinking by making them aware of their relationship to nature.
In the school garden, the children can experience cycles of nature: They plant seed potatoes, observe the growth of the potato plant, harvest the potatoes, and prepare them. The potato skins are composted and the mature compost is spread back on the beds next spring to prepare the soil for new seed. Students observe the development of the poppy flower through bud and flower to the mature seed pod and collect the seeds for sowing in the new garden year. In this way, they understand important connections through their own actions and experiences and become involved in ecological cycles again.
A school garden offers even more learning opportunities. The tasks that arise in the garden are varied and, in addition to horticultural, manual and domestic skills, also promote social skills such as independence, teamwork and a sense of responsibility. For example, the responsible group of students independently creates a watering schedule for the summer and is responsible for their daily watering duty during recess. The students also experience that perseverance is important to achieve long-term goals: From planting seed potatoes to making homemade chips, it just takes patience.
Successes and failures are shared by all. The whole group is happy about the thick pumpkin and the meter-high sunflowers, just as everyone is annoyed about the snails that leave nothing of the lettuce.
Working in the garden is largely free of competition and comparison. Everyone can contribute with his or her skills and succeed, which strengthens self-confidence. The joy of the harvest and cooking and eating together promotes a sense of togetherness in the group.