Wendy Gordon is an education consultant with Well Bean Gardening who goes into schools and academies to teach gardening and promote learning by growing.
In addition to her work in schools and academies with students, Wendy also writes about gardening for Kadamey’s FREE online digital activities magazine aimed at parents and early years nursery providers.
During Children’s Mental Health Week (5 to 11 February 2024), Wendy is keen to point out the benefits to all children and young people of getting busy in the garden.
Wendy says: “Gardening has everything and ticks every single box to be a health human being. If we can catch children early then we can encourage them to go outside and to look at what’s around them. To get them to grow flowers for pollinators and to grow healthy food and while they’re doing that they’re getting the exercise that they need.”
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One group Wendy works with enjoy singing the Latin names of plants and it is a good way to embed this language knowledge in a young mind.
Wendy says: “You quite often find us singing Latin names as they garden and they [the group of children] absolutely love it. It’s just fun, to make it a fun activity even on a miserable day.”
This type of activity does show how gardening cuts across the curriculum taking in English, maths, languages and science.
Top tips for getting children and young people interested in gardening include:
- Talk to a child – find out their interests within the subject of gardening
- Every group that Wendy works with has a different interest – one group of children she works with enjoys eating the vegetables that have been grown and the incentive is to try new vegetables and flavours. Another group is interested in wildlife and insects and she builds time in for the children to sit and watch the wildlife that visits
- Make it fun! Do tasks in a fun way
Wendy doesn’t believe enough schools are taking up the option of teaching gardening and outdoor learning, due in part to the packed nature of the curriculum currently.
The schools that take up gardening often have a lot in common, says Wendy. She says: “They see the benefit of gardening and they recognise that often children don’t always learn well in a classroom. And different children need different environments in which to work.”
Kadamey is trying to show the key benefits for outdoor sensory play in day nurseries by gathering together evidence and get some of the children’s energy into positive outdoor play.
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