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  School Grounds

 
School grounds provide a wide range of opportunities for formal and informal learning. Depending on the surroundings, they can have a significant impact on students’ attitudes and behaviour towards school, each other, the wider environment, and society. Students can spend many hours in the school grounds so it’s important that the experiences they have there are the best and most positive they can be. In order to support what is said inside the classroom, practical ideas need to be applied outside. These could include recycling and composting in the school grounds, introducing native plant species to attract birds and bees into school compounds, using recycled materials for creating elements within the grounds or maintaining the grounds using organic methods.

Teachers can take students for outdoor learning within the school compound itself. Such moves can break the monotony of classroom teaching. In order to create a conducive environment for learning, school authorities need to maintain school grounds that are attractive to pupils. School grounds can be designed and used as a cozy setting for learning. This requires suitable places for students to gather, seating for different group sizes, shade and shelter from the sun, wind and rain. Students can learn about the outdoors through books, videos and the internet; however, they will learn much more if they can actually experience the things they are learning about.

Students learn in different ways and for many, sitting inside the classroom can be boring and lead to inattentiveness. Many teachers speak about the amazing changes they see in students who have struggled to learn in traditional ways, whilst more able students also enjoy the challenge of learning in a more practical way. In fact, school gardens have been shown to boost children’s well-being and development.

Planting local trees can provide shade, act as windbreakers, cut down dust particles, or can even prevent erosion. School gardeners can be asked to choose fauna and flora that can be turned into learning stations to help children learn how to grow their own fruiting trees and vegetables. Club members can sell the produce to teachers as a way to raise funds for their environmental clubs. Students can also get the canteen operators to cook the school-grown vegetables on special school occasions.

Example:

Einstein Middle School is an eco-school in the USA that has received the bronze award. Its edible school garden project is an excellent example of how various themes such as School Grounds, Healthy Living, Nature & Biodiversity and Water can be combined. According to the project website, the project is essentially a gardening programme that aims to engage students and other community members in organic gardening, healthy food choices and water quality training. Over 300 pupils (in the 600+ strong school) help to maintain the garden, in which edible plants such as onion, peas and garlic are planted. The plants are watered using rainwater collected in barrels on the school's roof. The nature & biodiversity element comes in with the placing of a birdbath and bird feeders in the garden to attract all kinds of birds. On special days, guests from outside are invited to the school to sample healthy salads made from the vegetables planted in the garden. Overall, this a great example of how the school grounds are used to best effect to immerse students in issues related to healthy living, water management and nature & biodiversity. For more information on the project, visit the project website: http://learn.shorelineschools.org/einstein/eedible/index.php and this online news article about the project: http://shoreline.patch.com/articles/edible-school-yard-garden-featured-at-einstein-middle-school