The Effect of School Gardens on Self-Esteem, Interpersonal Relationships, Attitude toward School, and Environmental Attitude in Populations of Children

in HortScience

Children develop their personalities and attitudes at an early age. With children spending 25% of each day in the classroom, schools are a major influence on self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and environmental attitudes. Studies in human issues in horticulture have focused on how gardens affect self-esteem in nontraditional populations but have yet to research children in mainstream school districts. Our main goal was to initiate and integrate an environmental education garden program into the curriculum of several schools in the midwest and Texas. Our objectives included evaluating whether the students participating in the garden program were receiving various emotional, physical, and psychological benefits and whether they were developing positive environmental attitudes as a result of participation in the garden program. The garden program, titled “The Green Classroom,” was designed to provide third-through eighth-grade teachers some basic garden activities that could be infused into their classroom lessons and would serve to reinforce curriculum in various disciplines with hands-on activities. Eight schools, ≈1000 students, took part in the study. Students participating in this study were administered a pretest before participation in the garden program and an identical posttest after its completion. The questionnaire included a psychological inventory, an environmental attitude survey, and a short biographical information section. Comparisons were made between children based on age, ethnic background, gender, and length of garden season. Results examine the relationship between the garden program and self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, attitude toward school, and environmental attitudes of children.

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