Helping children connect to the environment is critical to their wellbeing. As children spend time simply exploring a garden through different hands-on activities, they have multiple opportunities to foster a connection with the environment Children naturally learn about the seasons through the cycles of planting, growing, and harvesting of plants. Through lessons they learn where the food comes from and about different gardening techniques, composting and plant varieties.
By learning about composting the children understand the process of preparing the soil before we plant the seeds. This nurtures the children both respect for the environment and a sense of responsibility for it. Having a garden that is organic is also important so that it is environmentally friendly. Using natural materials in a garden will promote health and are safe for the environment. Being attentive to safety in a garden area where people will be touching, smelling and consuming plants is critical for wellness.
In a Montessori classroom the, overarching goals of health and wellness connecting to gardening are:
• to select, prepare and eat nutritious meals and snacks.
- to learn where food comes from and how it grows.
- to cultivate food in our school garden – The Tower Garden.
- to promote health in our bodies and minds, and within our families, our school and our community.
The children are engaged in this process by exploring different herbs – identifying the colors, smells and flavors. Finding “green vegetables- like leafy greens, kale and spinach. In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to get kids outside. Spending time outdoors is one of the best ways for kids to be active, happy, dirty, and to explore their surroundings.
Have fun feeling healthy and invigorated when you spend time outdoors with your children!
DAWN KREISBERG is the Early Childhood Director of Olam Jewish Montessori Early of Beth Jacob and a contributing writer to Kiddish.