Advice Column, Child, Parenting, Toddler

The Importance of Environmental Exposure to Developing Minds

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As a pre-school child, I was always eager to be outside, “helping” my parents wherever I could.  I would watch as my mum and dad used to potter in the garden for hours at a time.  Always having plenty decisions to make.  Where in the garden should they place the newly bought plants? How deep should my dad dig the hole?  The list is endless.  Looking back, I now realize the patience they had, allowing me to “help”, the accommodations they would make so I would feel like a big girl with responsibilities for our garden to look beautiful.

In Early Childhood Development, we always speak about the importance of learning through play.  Our gardens provide the perfect opportunity for children to do just that.  Gardening heightens all our senses; children get to touch the different textures of soils, petals, stems, and seeds.  They can smell all the different scents and see the various colours of petals and leaves on each plant.  

There are many creatures in our garden that play a vital role in the different life cycles we have on earth, without the earthworm or the bee, there will be many disastrous effects – Children won’t know this unless they are shown and the responsibility of each creature is explained to them.

Emotionally, children will learn patience and responsibility while waiting for a tiny seed to grow into a plant.  A sense of pride and accomplishment develops as they realise they cared for and nurtured this beautiful flower or vegetable (which you could cook for dinner).

Academically, children are able to learn and make connections without even realising it.  Creating a graph to display how many days it took for your plant to grow.  Comparing heights from the 1st day to the size of when it is fully-grown.  The size of the hole we need to dig depends on the size of the plant.  

Literacy skills develop as they use different words to describe what they feel and see.  They can look at the pictures to understand how and where they should plant their bulbs in the garden.  

Both fine and gross motor skills are developing as well as their hand eye coordination as they use their tiny fingers to carefully place a seed into the hole they have dug using all their strength. 

Times have changed though; our lives have become extremely busy and gardening seems more of a chore now than it is for enjoyment.  Many times, we would rather pay someone to design the layout of our garden and make sure all the plants are in the correct location.  We have lost touch with the bond and fond memories we can create with our children in our very own back yards.

I encourage you to create new memories with your children.  Get a few pots and plants, give your child the responsibility of looking after their very own pot plant and watch how your child flourishes along with their plant.

Written by Pinnacle College Copperleaf

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