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How to educate through gardening

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With children spending more time indoors as a result of more technology-oriented pastimes, it’s important for them to know that enjoyment can be found outdoors, too.

And you don’t have to go far! As the lighter nights come in, spend time after school in the back garden or down at a local allotment and have fun whilst educating your children. Compost Direct, retailers of top soil, tells us more:

Early-years development

For younger children, playing in the garden is a great way to develop their early-years skills.

Messy play is a great way to improve sensory and cognitive development, whilst having fun. There is an abundance of research behind the advantages of messy play and how this unstructured form of activity can really help your child develop. This can be done in the garden with sand, water or even mud! It’s all about breaking down the usual rules that your child might face, such as being restricted to a play mat or not being too disruptive with toys. Encourage your child to draw shapes with different (child-friendly) tools and their fingers in various materials — this can help children to build up their finger and arm muscles, which is useful for when they come to hold a pen.

There are many new textures that a child can become exposed to from spending time in the garden. They become used to handling solid objects, such as toys, and these are easy for children to learn because they don’t change shape. For example, letting your child come into contact with mud, a softer material, lets children broaden their knowledge and allows them to compare and understand new textures.

General learning

If you help your child with their homework, why not do it outdoors on a fine evening? Your child might have spent all day behind a desk at school doing their work and it’s nice to have a break from this when they come home. Make it easy for your child to work outdoors by purchasing a gazebo or having a table and chairs outdoors where homework can be done. 85% of teachers reported that they saw a positive impact on their pupils’ behaviour when they were taught outside. In addition to this, 92% of pupils said that they preferred their lessons to be outdoors.

In a study between pupils who learnt indoors and those who learnt outdoors, those who were outside were found to have a better understanding of their responsibility to care for the environment.

About healthy eating

Research has also discovered that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or express a preference for that food. This can be a great way to improve their diet and get them outdoors.

Easy fruit and vegetables to grow include: strawberries, cabbage, radishes and potatoes. You can decide on the size of your patch and watch as your child runs outside to see what has grown that week.

Jobs for little helpers

Children often love to have some responsibility and help out in the home or garden. Give them some tasks to do daily, or even weekly, and it’s likely that they’ll start to look forward to spending time in the garden.

One simple task to get children outdoors could be to grow a sunflower. Each day your child can head outdoors to see how their plant is growing and practise some maths skills through measuring. This can be exciting for a child, as often the sunflower will grow taller than them!

If you are mowing the lawn or potting plants, why not get your child involved with keeping the garden tidy. Let them trim the edges of your garden, water the plants or do some de-weeding — it’s a nice way to spend time together, too.

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