By Sarah Bobbitt, Pre-K Teacher
As a mother of two young daughters and a Prekindergarten teacher, I spend the majority of my day with young children. Two of my favorite activities to experience with both my students and my children are cooking and gardening. Both create positive (and fun) learning experiences that teach independence and creativity, as well as fine motor and math skills, among many others. But perhaps most importantly, gardening and cooking encourage children from toddlers through adolescence to try new and healthy foods. Cardiologist Arthur Agatson explains, “What kids grow, they will eat!” I take it a few steps further: “Grow it, care for it, harvest it, cook it, and love it!”
Because a connection to healthy food is the best way for young children to trust that it is safe to eat, we include cooking and gardening as part of the weekly Pre-K curriculum. This year our class has planted, cared for, and harvested a variety of fall vegetables. The children enjoyed salad greens to compliment a Thanksgiving-themed meal, and we prepared pesto and smoothies with the Swiss chard we had carefully picked. (See the recipes).
Our 42 acres of outdoor space and focus on nature and the environment is one of the many reasons parents and students consider High Meadows one of the best private schools in North Atlanta. In the garden, young children can help plant, water, and harvest fruits and vegetables. As they grow older, they can research foods that will grow in their garden and plan recipes to use their harvest. In the kitchen, young children can help measure, pour, mix, cut, scrape, and clean. As they get older, they can help plan meals. Involving children in the meal-making process turns what can be a stressful daily task into a positive activity. Cooking and gardening also provide the foundation for our children to be healthy and care for themselves when they “leave the nest.”
For more ways to get your family healthy this year, follow HMS Wellness on Pinterest.