School Gardens used to be a part of school activities growing up. Each classroom had some flower beds that they were responsible for; students in each class took turns tending these gardens; watering and planting. Often at the end of the week a class would be awarded best garden.
There was no tangible reward, only bragging rights until the next announcement but we worked with such zeal and determination to win at the end of each week. It helped us to work more collaboratively and understand the agricultural science class better. It wasn’t too difficult for the teacher to explain pollination, the food chain etc. and it even encouraged mini gardening at home.
Sadly the concept of gardening as part of school curricula has gradually diminished. Today very few schools in Ghana have gardens cultivated and maintained solely through efforts of students/ pupils. Yet there are so many benefits that lie in school gardening that could make teaching and learning easier. Research has shown that keeping school gardens promotes the mental, emotional and social development of students.
Gardening in schools provides children with the much needed practical and holistic approach to learning. They touch, see and experience firsthand the theory they are taught in the classroom instead of relying on the often insufficient textbook examples. Gardening in schools stimulates creative thinking, pupils are able to relate to the environment more positively and grow up being good stewards of it. It is amazing how even unpopular subjects such as math, science and social studies come alive as real practical applications of these subjects are demonstrated through gardening.-measuring, photosynthesis, food cultures etc. Through gardening negative attitudes to these important subjects are altered for the better.
Gardening teaches our children responsibility. Gardening is a patient task. What you get from gardening is usually a result of the effort one puts into it. School gardening teaches pupils to be more disciplined and committed to caring for the plants. With each planting, watering or pruning, children inculcate the habit of duty, ownership and will for personal accomplishment.
Gardening improves the social skills of pupils. Research has shown that the practice of gardening as part of school curriculum has positive effects on the overall social development of pupils. The rewards of harvesting boost the pride and self confidence of pupils whilst the process of working in groups with other pupils makes them team players and develops their interaction skills.
Beyond the academic benefits of keeping school gardens, we can’t underestimate the positive lifestyle changes it introduces. Gardening contributes to healthy lifestyles for pupils. Learning about the nutrients contained in each vegetable encourages pupils to adopt healthier eating habits; also the physical activity that gardening requires provides excellent exercise that children need to grow well. Engaging directly with the beauty of nature, the different plants and flowers helps to bring out the beauty in pupils and this shows in how they organize and maintain their surroundings.
Finally, gardening in schools serves as an important tool of environmental education. Pupils become more conscious of the impact of their actions on the earth and its implications on climate change. The sustainable practices they learn from gardening makes them more interested in conversations on global climate change issues and more likely to participate in saving the earth.
Gradually the innovative Ghana garden and flower show is moving into every aspect of Ghanaian life and helping different stakeholders to create a garden in their little world and benefit from it. The show continues to encourage children to cultivate flowers and gardens.
At the 2015 Ghana Garden and Flower Show, the opportunity for schools to get directly involved in playing an active part in making our country clean, green and safe is being taken to another level! .The workshops for children are going to be even more exciting as we teach children innovative gardening methods.
This year’s movement is giving awards to schools that will be found to have their surroundings by developing a culture of maintaining flower and vegetable gardens. The movement will reward such efforts at an awards ceremony which will take place at the annual show to be held at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park from the 10th – 14th of September, 2015. Now you realise that school gardening does more than give your children the opportunity to engage directly with nature. It instills a sense of responsibility and pride for one’s surroundings. It in fact provides an avenue for diverse learning experiences whilst playing a prominent role in sustaining our environment. Join the movement and let’s get our kids down to earth!
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