Gardening 'makes children happy and teaches new skills'

Image caption,
The survey suggests children learn valuable skills through gardening

Taking part in gardening can make a child feel happy and boost their development, research suggests.

The study of 1,300 teachers and 10 schools was commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

It found children in schools that encouraged gardening became more resilient, confident and lived healthier lives.

The RHS says school gardening should be used as a key teaching tool, rather than as an extra-curricular activity.

Researchers at the National Foundation for Educational Research carried out the study and found teachers who used gardening as part of learning said it helped improve children's readiness to learn.

They also said it encouraged pupils to become more active in solving problems, as well as boosting literacy and numeracy skills.

The report said: "Fundamental to the success of school gardens in stimulating a love of learning was their ability to translate sometimes dry academic subjects into practical, real world experiences.

"Children were encouraged to get their hands dirty, in every sense. Teachers involved in the research said the result was a more active, inquisitive approach to learning.

"The changeable nature of gardening projects - where anything from the weather to plant disease can affect the outcome - forced children to become more flexible and better able to think on their feet and solve problems."

Researchers also said that exposing small children to insects helped them to overcome their fears, while waiting for crops to grow taught children patience.

And gardening also helped teach about healthy living and healthy eating, with children more willing to try new vegetables if they had grown their own crops, they said.

Dr Simon Thornton Wood, director of science and learning at the RHS, said: "As the new coalition government considers a new approach to the primary curriculum, we hope they acknowledge the striking conclusions of our research and that gardens enable a creative, flexible approach to teaching that has significant benefits.

"Schools which integrate gardens into the curriculum are developing children who are much more responsive to the challenges of adult life."

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