early education; gardening; healthy eating; experiential learning;
Texas Workforce Commission
Texas Child Care Quarterly
Why bring gardens to early education programs? School garden success has a long history, but this success has been found primarily in elementary schools (Blair 2009). Yet child care centers are typically open year-round and therefore are better prepared to enjoy the full bounty that gardens may provide.
Gardening with young children isn’t new (McFarland 2005), but a small national “farm to child care movement” that supports garden programs is growing (Berkenkamp and Mader 2012).
Unfortunately, many teachers are not familiar with gardening and plant science (Blair 2009). The novelty of gardening may be one of the obstacles in bringing gardens to the child care environment. Other obstacles can include concerns about working with children in messy outdoor settings and engaging in strenuous labor.
So why do it? What are the benefits for young children?