The Effects of the Literature in the Garden Curriculum on Life Skills of Children
Type of DegreeThesis
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Contemporary children's gardening began in 1993 when the American Horticultural Society held its first symposium based on youth gardening. It was entitled ""Children, Plants, and Gardens: Educational Opportunities."" The focus of the symposium was to demonstrate ways in which children's gardens could support educational curricula. Much research has been conducted on the skills children need to have the social competence to achieve their goals successfully and appropriately. These skills include: life, interpersonal, anger control, and stress management skills. Each of these skills can be learned or practiced in the garden. Children’s gardens have recently been shown to increase life skills. This study focused on five life skills: teamwork, self-understanding, leadership, decision making skills, and communication skills. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects that gardening/plant activities from the Junior Master Gardener curriculum, Literature in the Garden, have on children's life skills. Approximately 130 third grade students from a Lee County, AL school participated in the study. The students were equally divided into control and experimental groups and each student was given the Youth Life Skills Inventory as a pre-and post-test. The experimental group participated in eight gardening/plant activities after the pre-test while the control group did not complete the activities. No significant differences were found between mean gain scores for experimental and control group participants for overall life skills, self-understanding, decision making, communication, and teamwork. Significant differences were found between experimental and control groups on leadership skills. Experimental group leadership skills scores increased, while control group scores decreased. Also notable, is that differences between mean gain scores for experimental and control group overall life skills were approaching statistical significance at the p=0.056 level.