Sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words and this photo does just that! A young preschooler of the Kennett area received a gift from the Chester County Food Bank and Chester County Maternal Child Health Consortium (CCMCHC). As a result, she has been able to put herself into the container gardening process with great delight. As I contemplated a title for this photo, I came up with“Garden Glory.
In writing the book, “The Kennett Story: Shaping Our Future One Child at a Time,” Bob George and I discovered that the preschool age child needed additional community support to prepare for entry to a traditional school. This year, The Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative identified nature as the best teacher for engaging a child’s curiosity and so the idea of gardening came up.
In gardening, there certainly are fundamental principles that need to be followed, but the entire process is fluidand the child can easily become involved and take ownership.
Many times, the traditional approach to education has been one of instruction before developing the child’s interest and spirit of learning. If a child enters school having had the experience of growing a garden through exploration and discovery, this child more likely will bring this mind to the school classroom with interest and participation.
One of the preschoolers who received packages of seeds spoke about the magic of seeds sprouting several days after planting. She responded with a genuine desire to water and care for these plants to help them grow. In this case, she saw that she was a partner in the process and that there was much to discover and learn about nature’s teaching.
Another child spoke about the benefit of receiving the seedlings, because he saw what he was growing right from the start. This moved him into exploring how much water and sun was needed to keep the plant healthy and growing towards fruition.
In both cases, these preschoolers were putting themselves into the learning process, with the parent as a guide, but not the one in front of a classroom teaching. The parent is learning how to enable a child’s development while the preschooler is gaining confidence and recognizing that he is an active player in engaging a project.
There are many other benefits for families who take on gardening as a project. Linda Johnson, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist at la Comunidad Hispana (LCH) in a recent article states: “Gardening is a great way to talk to your children about the great outdoors, and how we can do our part to take care of the land. They will be amazed to see what started out as small plants or seeds become mature vegetables ready for picking and eating. Learning about growing food is also an opportunity to share appreciation for the many people that work in agriculture who harvest food for our tables every day.”
Gardening ties in with our most basic need for food that generates good health. Learning to enjoy the fruits of the earth will naturally expand a child’s palate and add to better eating habits and practices throughout one’s lifetime. Growing up in a family that plants a garden may even bring an appreciation forrutabagas, swiss chard and zucchini to name a few unique veggies.
Last but not least, attending to a garden during its complete growth cycle, requires commitment and care. This carries the potential to teach responsibility and respect of nature and all living beings.
Many photos have been taken of the 150 preschool families, who received gardening supplies as part of the Kindergarten Readiness Project. “Garden Glory” epitomizes what this project hoped to accomplish.
This photo of a young preschooler with open arms andglorious smile expresses her feeling of ownership and joy in being a part of the process. With this, there is no doubt that she and other preschool gardeners will carry their nature discoveries into kindergarten in the fall.