Integrating Gardening into the Elementary School Curriculum

in HortTechnology
Authors:
Laurie W. DeMarcoDepartment of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Diane RelfDepartment of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Alan McDanielDepartment of Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Gardening is increasing in use as the focus of interdisciplinary teaching units in the elementary school curriculum and as a stratagem for student therapeutic, recreational, and social experiences. Elementary school teachers, identified as experienced in using gardening as a teaching tool, were surveyed and interviewed to determine successful strategies for integration of gardening into elementary school curricula. The most important factors determined by these teachers for the successful use of gardening in the curriculum were 1) student and faculty ownership or commitment to integrating gardening in their curriculum, 2) availability of physical resources, and 3) faculty knowledge and skill in the application of gardening to enhance an interdisciplinary curriculum. Educators who incorporate school gardening into their curriculum report that school gardening is a somewhat successful (35.2%) or very successful (60.6%) teaching tool that enhances the learning of their students. Most (92%) teachers surveyed requested additional school gardening education for themselves.

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