'Schools which integrate gardens into the curriculum are developing children who are much more responsive to the challenges of adult life.' Dr Simon Thornton Wood, director of science and learning at the RHS

This presentation has been put together in order to progress Lawn On Order's ideas for aiding the horticultural education of children and those with learning difficulties. A recent study conducted for Britain's Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has found that encouraging children to learn gardening boosts their development by helping them become happier, more confident, and more resilient. In addition, gardening also helps teach children patience and the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

The study was conducted by researchers at the National Foundation for Children, who surveyed 1,300 teachers and 10 schools. Teachers who used gardening as part of their learning experience reported that it improved children's readiness to learn. The teachers also reported that gardening encouraged pupils to become more active in solving problems, as well as boosted literacy and numeracy skills. Now the society is urging that gardening should be incorporated as a key teaching tool in schools' regular curriculum instead of being an optional extra-curricular activity.

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."

Sadly, gardening has become a lost natural endeavour in much of today's urbanized societies. As a result, modern man is losing out on a wealth of natural physical and mental health benefits. Gardening provides aerobic, isotonic and isometric exercise, which benefits muscles and bones as well as respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Such benefits help prevent health problems such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis. Strength, endurance and flexibility are also improved by gardening, which makes it one of the best all-round exercises.

Physical exercise such as one gets from gardening releases endorphins, which are natural compounds that alleviate stress and its many negative health consequences. Studies have shown that simply being in a garden lowers blood pressure. Gardening also fosters a good night's sleep and exposes people to both healthy sunshine and beneficial immune boosting soil micro-organisms.

Gardeners are more likely to eat a wide range of fruit, vegetables, salad and herbs than non-gardeners, even if they don't cultivate the produce themselves. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to a healthy diet.

In addition to the benefits of physical activity, gardening helps people reconnect with the natural world from whence they sprang. It provides a calm oasis where one is lost in the moment and can be a natural form of meditation that quiets the conscious mind. It can also be a form of self-expression, enabling one to develop creativity and build confidence while allowing a healthy outlet for emotions.

Furthermore, gardening helps develop a sense of achievement where we are able to step back and see the differences we have made and discover the small, important things in life. Gardeners tend to be hopeful and philosophical people who look forward to future seasons, enjoy the present and respect the past, and are more accepting when things are not perfect.

Clearly, teaching our children to garden will help give them a head start at living and at appreciating a more natural and healthy life.

Our Aims

Lawn On Order would like to be the conduit between the theory of teaching children to garden and its realisation. With our knowledge, skills and experience we have the ability to set up growing areas, guide teachers and teach learners.

It is important that learners are engaged throughout the entire process from seed to table. Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. They will learn that gardening can be fun, but far more than idle play; they are contributing to the family well-being.

Besides planting and nurturing their garden beds, one has to be sure they alone do the harvesting and preparation of their crop for the table, no matter how modest the offering. While it's a convenient short cut to buy starters, children will learn more by seeing the growing process as it begins with seeds. The care given to sprouting seeds and nurturing the young seedling are a valuable part of the gardening experience.

The ability to learn how to use tools and the dexterity gained is a crucial part of gardening for children, thus it is important that children are given serious tools. Cheap plastic child's gardening tools are worse than no tools at all; they break easily and frustrate the user. It can be hard to locate good tools for kids, especially work gloves that fit a small hand, but it is worth the effort.

With some garden tools, like a hoe or spade, we can easily saw the handle shorter. Sometimes they can use the same tools we use, it acknowledges the importance of the work they are doing.

The plants that are grown can vary from the usual salads and vegetables, we value other groups such as fruits, flowers, herbs and wild flowers. This not only leads to a more varied crop, but also encourages insects, birds, butterflies and all other manor of creatures.

In addition to building a compost heap, building a wormery will fascinate children and appeal to their love of all things dirty, but will also show them another section of the life cycle and develop their understanding of the importance of even a worm's role.

Each gardening site will be individual, being dependant on available land, funds, number of learners and willing support network, (teachers, parents and volunteers). The largest can have potting sheds, raised and ground level growing areas, green houses, area left to nature with wild flowers and ponds, compost and wormery areas. The smallest may just have a growing area. Each project will be tailor made to match needs and budget, this now leads us onto financing.

At Lawn On Order we are gardeners. As our logo says, we can 'design, create and maintain' gardens. We can also teach and guide. We are not however, in touch with the various EU, government and local council grants and other funding options. We feel that the projects would also benefit from financial input from schools and parents. Again this is not something we organise and we are sure that there are already plenty of groups who specialise in organising and taking advantage of funding possibilities. Lawn On Order simply want to make it physically happen.

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Lawn On Order provide a comprehensive range of garden timber and wood work services, from fences and trellising, decking, sheds, summer houses and furniture renovation.

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Nice job guys, just need some sunshine now!

- Tim, Southend-on-Sea