Gardening as an effective teaching tool

Apr 2012
Gardening as an effective teaching tool
Outdoor classrooms could hold the key to teaching as they help bring lessons to life for youngsters

Schools are increasingly searching for creative and engaging ways to deliver the curriculum, and many have invested in outdoor classrooms to really bring learning to life.

In recent years there has also been a focus on making cross-curricular links between subjects using techniques such as thematic learning. This was primarily designed to ensure that children develop a broad range of skills that can be applied in a number of contexts.

In the 2008 government-commissioned review, Sir Jim Rose said: 'Subjects will be complemented by worthwhile and challenging cross-curricular studies that provide ample opportunities for children to use and apply their subject knowledge and skills to deepen understanding.'In its recent publication entitled Gardening in Schools, the Royal Horticultural society has argued that gardens are 'a vital tool for children's learning' and school gardens are already being used to enhance the teaching of scientific subjects such as Growth.

RHS asked the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) to conduct research into the impact of gardening in schools, surveying 1,300 teachers and carrying out an in-depth study of 10 schools from urban to village institutions.

The results drew the following positive conclusions about how school gardens benefitted children. They were said to help children:

  • Become stronger, more active learners capable of thinking independently and adapting their skills and knowledge to new challenges at school and in future

  • Gain a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life so they can achieve their goals and play a positive role in society

  • Learn vital job skills such as presentation skills, communication and team work, and fuel their entrepreneurial spirit

  • Embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle as an important tool for success at school and beyond

  • Develop the ability to work and communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds

The RHS research also found that gardening in schools is also helping children develop their skills in numeracy and literacy.

Parents who are keen to draw on the success of the garden school initiative may want to introduce their children to gardening by getting them to plant flowers/seeds or setting up a herb garden on windowsills.