At NCC early learners, children enjoy a hands-on approach to nutrition as they get their hands dirty learning how to grow delicious fruit and vegetables and experience eating a variety of fresh seasonal produce.
Surrounded by the NCC Berakah Farm, a 5 acre working farm with cattle, miniature horses, chickens, honey bees, and vegetable gardens, the centre is aiming to create a sustainable and eco-friendly environment by introducing a range of child-focused gardening and farming projects. The early learners love to spend time with the animals, feeding and patting the miniature horses and learning about how to care for the animals, whilst Farmer Barry assists the children to collect eggs and show them how to harvest honey.
As the children are encouraged to enjoy spending time outdoors and looking after the natural environment, they have learnt plant names, successfully harvested edible plants, and plan and decorate the vegetable garden area – including finding ingenious ways to keep bugs and birds from eating the vegies!
Gardens can be used to integrate science, mathematics, language, arts, history, environmental studies, nutrition and health into fun learning activities for children, as well as doubling as playgrounds with edible treats to promote healthy eating habits. For younger children, an experience with growing and eating their own food can lead to a lifetime of better nutrition, and more interest in eating fresh produce.
NCC early learners top tips for getting your children involved in gardening at home
It's much easier than you may think and it's a great activity that your family can do together. Gardening can be scaled down or up according to what you have room for and the age of your children. When you don’t have a garden at all, here are some ideas to help you get started.
If you don’t have room in your backyard, you can start with containers - all you need is a sunny balcony. Remember to water often as containers can dry out quickly.
Provide Children’s Gardening Tools
Giving children a tool as simple as work gloves encourages your children and reminds them that the work they are doing is important too. Hand tools can be purchased cheaply from hardware stores and work well for a container garden.
Grow and Learn by Reading
Reading children’s books about gardening together help your family stay engaged throughout the entire process. Patience is a virtue not often associated with young children, but during long growing times, reading and talking about gardening help to keep the process top of mind when there isn’t much change.
Choose Speedy Growers
Selecting fast-growing seeds can help your children see the rewards of tending to a garden. Sunflowers and bean vines tend to grow quickly, and cherry tomatoes are also a fun and delicious crop that children can pick straight from the vine to eat.
When it comes to gardening, children are growing more than just plants - they are developing their character. Team work, perseverance, overcoming problems and more are among the essential life skills that children experience by having a garden. These tips can help you get your family started in gardening and reap the rewards of a green thumb.