GroMoreGood Garden Grants
Decades of research show children who grow fresh food eat more fresh food. That's why NHSA and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation are joining forces to teach children, families, and communities how to grow their own produce.
The GroMoreGood initiative make garden grants, garden kits, educational curriculum, and garden training available to all Head Start programs with the goal of creating more edible gardens for young children and their families. The initiative also supports the creation of green space projects—land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation—as an option for children and the community to learn.
There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden: knowledge about nutritious food, an understanding of the natural world, a chance to watch something grow—everything kids can experience by getting their hands dirty. Hands-on experiences in the garden provide young children and the Head Start community with a multitude of benefits, including:
- Access to healthy food
- Increased physical activity
- Improved behavior
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Positive social integration
- Greater engagement with learning
- Creative ways to guide curriculum and learning materials around the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework
Aligning with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework
Outdoors is an essential place for children’s learning. They learn about their world by observing, exploring, and interacting with its natural elements. Working with children and families to create, build, plant, and tend gardens is a great way to connect children and families to nature. The garden can reflect the program’s natural climate, whether it is temperate, tropical, arid, or cold. It can provide shade and offer shelters from wind or rain as needed. Below are examples of the many ways gardening can support young children’s learning across the various Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) learning domains.
Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
Children are tactile and sensory learners. They breathe in the fresh air and scents of plants and flowers. They experience the elements of weather and seasons. They practice balance by moving their bodies across grass and paths, through sand and soil, and over hills and valleys. They develop motor skills to hold and use tools. Growing herbs and produce can encourage healthy eating habits that help their bodies grow.
Language and Communication
Reading about gardening and talking about the growing process can expand children’s vocabulary. Rich conversations support their understanding of the world and enhance their cognitive abilities. Gardening offers lots of chances to write. Children can draw images and scribe labels to mark the various plantings. They can graph the heights as plants grow and chart the differences of leaves and flowers.
Being outdoors and gardening helps children get a closer look at wildlife and the lifecycle of plants. They observe the textures of tree bark, flower petals, plant stems, and leaves. They notice and compare the shapes, sizes, and weight of seeds, foliage, and produce. They solve problems as they figure out ways to pry away rocks and clear rubble. They use scientific reasoning to predict which seed will grow what vegetable. This is exciting and interesting work for young scientists and mathematicians!
Approaches to Learning
Starting and tending a garden encourages curiosity. Adults can wonder with children and watch what happens after planting seeds. The tactile and sensory experiences of gardening can help children self-regulate. The feel of the soil and smell of the earth may bring comfort. Gardens can help children begin to work independently as they plant seeds or pick produce. They practice patience as they wait for seeds to sprout and experience the benefit of delayed gratification as they wait for produce to ripen.
Social and Emotional Development
For young children, gardening can support emotional functioning as they express delight or disappointment when plants thrive or struggle. They can work with adults and peers on various tasks and, with practice, begin to do more of these independently. For expectant families, starting seeds can begin a conversation around what it means to take care of something else. Learning about the individual needs of a plant can introduce the idea of understanding the individual needs of others.
ELOF and Beyond
Providing quality outdoor space connects children — and us — to nature. Intentionally planning the outdoor area leads to exciting opportunities that engage children in meaningful tasks and projects. Whether you create a large bed or intimate potted garden with children and families, think of all the ways you help them have fun and grow while meeting the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and fostering key skills, behaviors, and knowledge within all the children you serve.
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