An Important Second Opinion

Parents and teachers probably are not always aware of the total good that comes from having an outdoor or in this case a gardening experience. As one of the administrators of the garden at Nolan Elementary-Middle School, neither am I. I tend to focus on garden prep work, planting seeds/plants, watering and getting the plants ready for harvesting. Who has time to sit around and conduct studies about what benefits, other than a successful harvest, the kids and their families receive from their gardening experience.
Fortunately, there are people that have the time and energy to study, analyze and determine some of the not so obvious benefits of outdoor activities in the schoolyard. Without a doubt, some of them apply to our little program at Nolan and a recent blog published by the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, with information sourced by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, provides some “quantifiable” information on how much good the kids at Nolan and other schools with similar programs and outlooks are receiving from being outdoors engaged in gardening and other activities. I have copied the information in its entirety for you to read and share with other concerned parents and adults.

EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS OF SUMMER

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 in Blogs, News by ymurphy

Many times we think of the summer as a period away from school and formal study, without considering the other benefits that children receive during the days when the school doors are closed. Yet we know that exploring our world has significant educational benefit that may not be focused on a specific topic or discipline. You might not know that:
• Studies show that outdoor experiences improve self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, autonomy, and initiative in teens.
• Contact with natural and physical activity in a natural environment improves psychological well-being.
• Students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages and cause fewer classroom disruptions.
• Spending time in the open air and learning outside increases student’s ability to think creatively and improves problem solving skills.
• Seven out of ten U.S. children have low vitamin D levels due to reduced exposure to sunlight thus risking their bone and heart health.
• Exposure to the outdoors reduces the symptoms of ADHD
• Exposure to natural morning light promotes better sleep.
• Each hour that a child spends outdoors beyond the average of 3.7 hours per week reduces the risk of myopia by 2%.
• Children who play outside in natural settings are less likely to suffer obesity and less likely to contract diabetes.

There are many other health and social benefits to being outdoors. In Michigan the best time to do so is during these summer months, however winter sports and fun are as important as the summer ones. We must all encourage the development of the positive behaviors of sharing and cooperative engagement. Reducing stress and increasing attention time enhances students’ ability to focus and therefore their ability to learn. For all of these reasons the Detroit Public Schools Foundation supports Camp Shurly, Metro Detroit Youth Day, the DPS Day Camp, and other summertime activities that will lead to greater academic achievement in the fall.

Bulleted statements are from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

So you can see there is more going on than what meets the eye and speaking for all of the adult participants and sponsors of the garden program we are all glad to be just one of the “tools” in use to provide a better learning environment for the student gardeners at Nolan. And for the record, the Detroit Public Schools Foundation was an early supporter of the garden at Nolan and other schools before they became a part of Michigan’s Education Achievement System.

This should be a “heads up” for all parents with school-aged children.  Get them up and outdoors even when they are not in school. They can save those video games for the winter time when there’s absolutely nothing to do.

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