My students come from culturally diverse backgrounds found in most urban settings. Many come from low socioeconomic households, and they are all eligible to receive free lunch.
All of my students have special needs.
They have varying degrees of academic, social, emotional, and physical delays, and many have autism. Most have limited language and communication skills, which present them with a multitude of challenges. The simple tasks and daily living skills that come naturally to "typical" learners can take months for my students to tackle. They need opportunities to engage in hands-on activities that will allow them to explore and experience the vast world around them.
Gardening is a wonderful introduction into the world of science. This plant growth cart will enable my students to start seedlings in the classrooms.
With the right light, it's easy to grow vegetables from seed to harvest.
When they plant their first seeds, they become curious about what will happen next. They make their own hypothesis and monitor the progress each day. Without even realizing it, my students are learning the basic steps of the scientific process. As they get older, they learn about the impact of sunlight and water on the growth of a plant. They learn which plants need more sunlight, which need less water, and how long they take to grow. Gardening teaches students responsibility. They learn that they have to take care of their seeds each day in order for them to become healthy plants.
We had our first harvest from our school vegetable garden this year. The garden has proven to be very therapeutic for our students on the autism spectrum. It is a welcome relief from the stress of the classroom. It has become an area of peaceful fascination. Caring for living things, watching them grow and thrive, and reaping the harvest teaches respect, pride, and perseverance. These skills will stay with our students throughout their lifetimes.
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