Inclusive Education practices in the Edible Garden of Learning in "Elhica" kindergarten

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Kindergarten "Elhitsa" № 59 (odz59.com) is a state kindergarten in Sofia, where 310 children are raised and raised, including 2 specialized groups for work with 27 children with special educational needs. Here children have a diverse educational environment that ensures the harmonious development of the mind, hands and heart of children through cultural and educational programs based on folk art and Bulgarian folklore, specialized educational halls, playgrounds and installations.

In the courtyard of the kindergarten there is a tasty educational garden which is an intensive ecosystem build on a small area, where children, together with their teachers and parents, grow a delicious fruit harvest, seasonal vegetables, herbs and spices.

The garden was created in 2012, with the support of ZAEDNO, AMB and the Parental Foundation and
was designed and created together in several joint actions with the participation of teachers, children, parents and friends from the local community.

 

Today the Garden is a favorite place to play, work, communicate and research learning for both children and teachers, parents and friends from the local community.

For over 7 years, the area of ​​the Tasty Garden has been maintained and developed with the support of the Parent community, teachers, and all children are involved in seasonal care.

 

"Tasty Garden" is a long-lasting installation in the courtyard of the kindergarten made entirely of natural materials (wood), which consists of several elevated leeches filled with fertile soil and a zone of wooden tables, benches and a visualization board for research learning and observation the garden.
 

The Edible Garden of Learning in the yards of kindergartens and schools is a rich multi-dimensional educational practice with a great potential to unite subjects, people and actions in one vital integral process where we see the rise of motivation and the joy and satisfaction with both teaching and learning  as some of the most valuable experiences in human life. In a very natural way the Edible Garden of Learning brings together all participants in the educational process in a life-enriching relationship and leads them to a deep creative process of learning by experiencing that supports the development of the physical, intellectual, emotional and social intelligence of the pupils, and also unites and supports the sustainable development of their local communities.

 The Edible Garden of Learning in the school yard is a multi-dimensional educational practice with a great potential to unite subjects, people and actions in one vital integral process where we see the rise of motivation and the joy and satisfaction with both – teaching and learning - as some of the most valuable experiences in human life. In a very natural way "The Edible Garden of Learning" brings together all participants in the educational process in a life-enriching relationship and leads them to a deep creative process of learning by experiencing that supports the all-round development of physical, intellectual, emotional and social intelligence of the pupils , and also unites and supports the sustainable development of their local communities.

 

 

LESSONS FROM NATURE FOR ALL

The "Tasty Garden" is a rich educational tool and a stimulating space for all the senses, where we have many educational, cultural and therapeutic activities throughout the school year.

The activities in the "Tasty Garden" take place from March to November outside in the garden and in the cold months the children plan, draw, study the seedlings and plant life inside the classroom.

In "Tasty Garden", each child get a unique chance to develop body, mind and emotions, to cultivate new skills and life experiences while communicating with nature and others while working together on preparing beds and paths, planting, transplanting, watering, weeding, mulching , composting, observing, exploring, exploring the life of the whole ecosystem, reading books, studying songs and folk rituals, and land and fertility traditions.

 

THE TASTY GARDEN AS INCLUSIVE EDUCATION ZONE FOR ALL

The activities in the Tasty Garden help children to develop a variety of skills and competences:

  • to move in a coordinated and purposeful way, to fully develop their senses and vocabulary (cleaning, digging, fertilizing, planting, plant care)
  • to take care and to bear responsibility (watering, weeding, tethering of plants, removal of pests)
  • to study directly from nature and personal experience - in the garden children perform observations and practical tasks and experiments, draw conclusions and reach the theory of learning content.
  • to exchange and share impressions and emotions, communicating on different themes while working on a common positive goal - growing abundant and delicious crops.
  • to work, play and live together - working together in the garden, solving a variety of situations and problems, children spontaneously learn to work together, coordinate, support, share resources (tools, seeds, leeches) and also - when they argue, express their opinions, respect the point of view of the other, together seek common solutions to the problems they face.
  • to live in a state of natural tranquility and satisfaction - it is extremely interesting that when working in the garden children and adults spontaneously enter a state of joy and exploratory excitement that many times increases their capacity to learn new skills, ideas and quality of communication and reduces aggression. After activities in the Tasty Garden, children and teachers are much more relaxed, communicative and mutually supportive.
  • to share with others their joy, beauty and excitement - when working in the garden, in a completely independent mode, while the children work in a concentrated and happy state they spontaneously start singing the folk songs they have studied by gradually taking the whole group, which is an indicator of a high degree of harmonization for both the individual person and the whole group.
  • to aquire long lasting skills for a sustainable lifestyle in the community in each child is also built through participation in folk traditions and rituals related to the land and fertility (Blagovets, Lazarovden, Enyovden) and Harvest Festival and Abundance (October).

 

THE TASTY GARDEN IN A SUN SHAPE - CREATED WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE WHOLE COMMUNITY:

The idea of ​​a
"Tasty Garden" very quickly and easily wins the hearts of both teachers and parent communities - they all participate with joy, curiosity and dedication in all activities of design, creation, plantation and maintenance of the Garden. During these creative gardening meetings a new community emerged - it is made by  different generations (kids, teachers, parents, grandparents and other family members) - this increases the positive spirit of the whole kindergarten, and for the children it is really invaluable to see, communicate and work together with all their loved ones.

At the same time, the Tasty Garden provides a ground for spontaneous and joyful multidisciplinary training on different themes of subject matter and STEM, and is an excellent area for differentiated teaching (because many and varied life processes run simultaneously and in real time) , where each child has the opportunity to experience and experience with the living ecosystem personally, and receives support, information and guidance on the level of the ecosystem.

LESSONS AND SUPPORT OF NATURE FOR EVERY CHILD

When working with SEN children, living with the living nature (touching the soil, plants, colors and fragrances of the living garden) gives a rich palette of sensory stimulating and emotional stabilization, and gives excellent therapeutic results.

THE GARDEN AS A GROWING CLASSROOM FOR EVERYONE
Through our work with the Garden we have learned that the best way to educate children how to work together and live together is through our personal example by building a community that is focused on creating and taking care of something that is beautiful, live and sustainable - our tasty educational garden. We have learned that children can easily learn a myriad of exciting and exciting lessons from nature "on everything", just like we adults.


 

                                                              

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