Tops Salisbury are getting green-fingered in their weekly Gardening Club.
At Tops, we actively encourage our children to be outside as much as possible. We have expansive outdoor play areas, and even run forest schools. Tops Salisbury take it one step further with Gardening Club!
Every week, children get involved in gardening projects. With their peers, they plant seeds, transfer seedlings to the specially designed gardening area, and take responsibility for nurturing their plants. We grow fruits, vegetables and herbs… all of which are gleefully eaten when they’re ready!
It’s not just about planting (although we wont deny that’s fun!) but also about caring. Our children help tidy up the borders of the garden, and get stuck in with weeding. They take charge of frequently watering and feeding their plants, making sure they’re protected from insects, and monitoring their growth.
Gardening club isn’t just for the summer months either- children are getting involved all year round. If it’s pouring buckets, we take the gardening inside. After all, sowing seeds into sprouting pots can just as easily be done under a nice, warm canopy!
No fussy eaters here!
Sometimes children can be a little picky with what’s on their plate. At Tops, we encourage children to serve themselves at the dining table, which definitely helps boost their enthusiasm. But what could be more enticing that a plate full of fruit and vegetables that our children have grown with their own hands? The self-esteem boost a child gets when they eat a delicious fruit salad prepared from the perfect fruit they grew themselves, is enormous. Rightfully so!
Of course, Tops also run cooking school. What an ideal way to really show our children where our food comes from: planted and nurtured by their own little hands, and then used as ingredients in recipes they can prepare themselves.
Let’s not forget the huge number of multivitamins and nutrients in fruit and vegetables. Anything that encourages our children to eat more of this brain food is surely a good thing!
Good for the brain
Children who take part in gardening projects score higher in scientific achievement. The wonder of the plant life cycle happening right before their eyes sparks many questions: why do the plants need rain? Why has the sunflower turned to face the sun? Before you know it, they’ll be asking for diagrams explaining photosynthesis, experiments demonstrating soil deterioration, and real life examples of insect life cycles.
It’s easy to mix in a bit of maths too. Count the seeds, how far about do they need to be planted, how many can you comfortably fit in a pot? If each plant sprouts 10 tomatoes, and you’ve planted 6 seeds, how many tomatoes will you have? Measuring the growth of plants every week is a fantastic way to track achievement, and add some numbers into the mix.
Supplementing gardening with some related reading, maybe make a photo journal, or take a trip to the farmers’ market, and you’ve covered all the bases!
But, it’s so dirty!
While no-one would question the wisdom of basic health and safety routines such as washing hands, it turns out we shouldn’t be sanitising quite as much as we should. Getting down in the dirt has several health benefits for children, and of course adults too!
You know that smile on your child’s face when they’re head to toe in sticky mud? That’s not just making him happy, but also benefiting their heart. University studies of thousands of children over two decades concluded that when infants were exposed to germs, their risk of strokes and heart attacks in adulthood decreased. According to the University of California’s School of Medicine, a common bacteria found in dirt helps prevent inflammation and improves the skin’s healing ability.
Serotonin, the ‘happy’ chemical in our brains, is activated by a friendly bacteria found in soil (Mycobacterium vaccae, if you’re wondering). It also improves learning ability and decreases anxious behaviours.
So playing in the mud makes our children healthy and happy.
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