Combating Nature-Deficit Disorder in the Garden

According to author Richard Louv, the greatest increase in childhood obesity in our history has occurred in the same two decades that the greatest increase in organized sports for children in our history. “Pediatricians are now saying that this generation of children may be the first to have a lower life expectancy than their parents and its because of this sedentary lifestyle.”

Watering EggplantsStudies show that kids connected to nature have

  • Better Concentration
  • Less Stress
  • More Creativity
  • and Higher Self-Esteem

than those children not exposed to the same natural world experiences.

While increasing our children’s physical activity and eating right is important, connecting them to the ecosystem that they are a part of is crucial.

An edible schoolyard garden provides that connection while serving as an outdoor science learning laboratory. Our youngest (pre-school) students strengthen and develop their hand-eye coordination, gross motor, tactical and sensorial skills by gardening.

In the edible garden from seed planting to the time of harvest, the children have the opportunity to observe the life cycle of plants. In nature, waste equals food, so the young children are able to observe the interdependence of ecosystems. They learn about soil composition and chemistry. Through composting and mulching they begin to learn about decomposition.

Edible schoolyard gardening allows students hands-on experience with concepts such as evaporation, propagation, biodiversity, companion planting and pollination. They are introduced to the process of photosynthesis. In a garden, students learn to follow and chart the life cycles butterflies, worms and other creatures.

Bean Growth Chart-KindergartenThe garden provides the children the chance to take the concepts that they are learning in the classroom and put these into practical applications. As early as preschool, students learn to blend abstract concepts with the concrete and tangible realities in nature. Students can record their observations from the garden into a science journals. Through drawings, they can chart the daily grown of their plants from seeds into sprouts into plants.

Another benefit of your edible schoolyard garden:  You will never have to worry that your students will answer,”from the grocery store” in response to the question, “where do vegetables come from?”

Additional reading:


QUEST on KQED Public Media.


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