“Green Thumbs Make Better Thinkers.”
That was the headline of a featured article in this past Sunday’s (Aug. 8, 2010) edition of Australia’s Sunday Herald Sun. It was sent to me by Anthony Tesselaar, head of Australia’s Tesselaar Plants.
“Spending time gardening,” read the feature, “is linked to improved reading, writing and numeracy skills in children, reports a new United Kingdom study.”
According to the study – in which researchers surveyed 1,300 teachers and looked at 10 schools to examine the impact of gardening on kids – teachers who encouraged students to get involved in school gardens as part of their education said the children who did so displayed more independence and were better at problem-solving.
The report also claimed that the changeable nature of gardening projects – where weather and plant disease can affect outcomes, for instance – encourages children to become more flexible and better equipped for problem solving.
Who knew? We gardeners did, I suspect.
And I would add, after writing a newspaper story (for the Democrat and Chronicle, a Gannett newspaper in Rochester, NY) on the impact of school gardens on at-risk youth, that gardening also develops confidence, compassion, healthy eating and a respect for the environment. Those I interviewed for the stories, for instance, said that they were able to indirectly teach the concept of nurturing without having to be preachy. Their kids also reported liking vegetables (many of which they’d never tried before) and wanting a food garden at home. The kids understood, they added, that food came from the world around them instead of just magically appearing in the store and that this fostered a sense of greater connection to their world. The responsibility and ownership of their part of the project, meanwhile, instilled in them a sense of pride and contribution to something larger. This, in turn, set them up for success.
So the next time someone kids you about puttering around with posies, be proud of your Plant Nerd status! Just tell them: Green Thumbs Make Better Thinkers!