Little Thumbs

Gardening Helps Children Grow

Gardening provides many varieties of engagement for children: designing, planting and maintaining a garden patch; harvesting, preparing and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and creating art and stories inspired by their garden experiences.

When third, fourth and fifth grade students participating in a one-year gardening program were surveyed for life skills, they showed significant increases in self-understanding, interpersonal relationship skills and the ability to work in groups, compared with nonparticipating students. Qualitative surveys of 52 second and third grade students working in a community garden classroom program in San Antonio, Texas, further revealed the children were likely to have more positive bonding experiences with their parents and other adults.

A study of children with learning disabilities that engaged in gardening measured increases in nonverbal communication skills, awareness levels of the advantages of order, understanding of how to participate in a cooperative effort, and the ability to form positive relationships with adults. Juvenile offenders that gardened showed improved self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and attitudes towards school. Overall, gardening has been recognized by many studies as a therapeutic healing activity that can positively impact mental health and well-being.

Source: University of Colorado-Denver; Health Sciences Center

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