The Whitby Garden
Gardening enriches Whitby's curriculum in many ways. Maria Montessori believed children should physically interact with their world. The International Baccalaureate program shows children how interconnected our world really is. Planting and working in the garden connects children to the earth and educates them on the life process of plants and the cycles of nature. Gardening also supports children's social and emotional growth; it demands responsibility, patience, discipline and cooperation, while providing rich rewards as children witness life unfolding in their care. They appreciate the paradox of an ecosystem that is at once fragile and yet incredibly resilient.
The Whitby Garden grows many different types of plants during the school year. For example, radishes, carrots and parsnips can be eaten right out of the garden; the children learn that many vegetables are roots, exactly what roots are and how they function. Plants with edible leaves such as lettuces, herbs, spinach, dandelions continue to grow even as they are harvested. Edible flowers such as nasturtiums and violets, and seeds such as sunflowers proliferate. Peas and beans of all kinds are easy to grow and children love to eat them fresh off the vine. Cucurbits (the squash and cucumber family) are also very interesting because we eat the fruit as well as the seeds. We have three apple trees which hold the promise of sweetness as they mature.
Whitby's teachers have discretion to plant whatever best connects with their curriculum. While gardening clearly ties into the science curriculum, it also lends itself to reading/writing projects, math and measurement, as well as to cultural studies (agriculture and irrigation around the globe, for example).
Every child interacts with the garden at his or her own level. While a toddler may marvel at the young plant which grows from the seed she sowed, older children can take their study of plants to a deeper level, analyzing the soil, determining if and when fertilizer is needed. They can be called on to investigate any plant diseases and determine the best course of action.
Parent assistance is crucial to the success of our garden, and no prior gardening experience is required. If you are interested in getting involved with the Whitby garden, please contact Kristen Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org.