Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Earth Day is not only about learning how to live with our planet and serve as good stewards but also learn and appreciate the many fruits she has to offer for nourishment and health! There are also additional benefits that prove to nurture the whole child and promote essential life skills.
In this section, I provide ideas on how parents and educators can encourage development of important life skills. There are many avenues to meeting this goal; check back often as we learn together about additional approaches through guest writers. Providing parents with options will make it easier to adapt and adopt some ideas for use at home!
The Real Beauty of Gardening
It is spring and many hands are itching to get out into the earth to plant seeds, prepare flower beds, and care for their personal little corners of the planet. We begin this journey with a discussion on indoor gardening systems that can be created with items many can find right at home!
In addition to the fact that proper nutrition is needed for learning to take place, I am dedicated to fighting childhood obesity and teaching the importance of addressing hunger in our local communities. Gardening provides many opportunities to help children make educated choices regarding their food and contributions to the improvement of their own communities.
Fighting Against Childhood Obesity
Gardening encourages better eating habits. It is hard to grow a bean from seed to harvest without naturally desiring a taste! First Lady Michelle Obama champions the war on childhood obesity and promotes community gardening on the very lawn of the White House. This is exciting news for teachers because we also see the dangerous effects of obesity on the learning process. Obesity DISCOURAGES learning progress:
The National Institutes of Health-supported study published in
Pediatrics indicates that kids with metabolic syndrome (MetS) had
“significantly lower arithmetic, spelling, attention and mental flexibility and
a trend for lower over all intelligence.'
There can be no learning without proper nutrition in place to feed the brain the nutrients it needs to work.
By nourishing the brain with healthy food and water, you will
optimize the internal environment, enabling students to truly engage
in the classroom environment and achieve their potential.
~Philippa Norman MD, MPH
Healthy Brain For Life, 2013
Learning is hard work and it takes fuel! Growing a garden can help children maintain healthy weights while preparing their brains for information intake.
Addressing Hunger in Local Communities
As of April 2013, half of the residents of New York City live at or below poverty level (Rivlin-Nadler). The news is even more grim for residents in large cities across the country. It is simply getting harder to purchase groceries (Badger, 2013). Hunger is a pervasive problem in the world. Understanding basic gardening principles is essential in the fight against hunger. Exposing your children to gardening helps them develop the skills necessary for eating for life, instead of a day. It may encourage empathy for of those in our communities who face hunger each day. I encourage families to join the many organizations across the country who encourage gardening to fight hunger by including designated rows to give to the hungry. What a phenomenal way to engage the spirit of service in children by teaching them to support the people in their own communities in a tangible manner.
I am pleased to offer these ideas for teaching your children "how to fish" so they can learn how to eat nutriciously for life. I am also glad the end of the writing is coming to an end so I can get busy developing my own 2-liter green bean, strawberries and Roma Tomato garden!.
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Learning should be challenging but not frustrating. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions you may have. It is truly a pleasure to serve.
Professor Marsha Burson Bass, ABD