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with disabilities or to those who are just learning the common language of
their school. A good teacher can find ways to include everyone.
Gardens are beautiful. In recent years, many teachers have begun to rec-
ognize that institutional-style buildings and classrooms lack the aesthetic
qualities that are necessary to foster a deep appreciation of life in children.
The Reggio Emilia approach, which emphasizes the relationship between the
children and their environment, calling the environment the third teacher,
has been instrumental in this new awareness. Adding a garden softens the
outdoor classroom area and adds a focal point that changes the quality of the
playground experience. By bringing ﬂowers or foliage cuttings from the garden
inside, children and teachers can do the same for the indoor classroom. Some
plants can be grown indoors as well.
Anyone who enjoys gardening knows the sense of calm that comes from
handling soil, tucking seedlings tenderly away, watching the plants and ani-
mals that inhabit the garden. The garden demands that people wait. Plants
grow at their own pace. The garden gives children opportunities to slow down
and take time to explore in detail. Children who observe closely will notice
small changes from day to day, large changes from week to week. They learn
the need for patience and careful observation. They begin to nurture.
With gardening, teachers can create private spaces for children. Much
has been written about the need for children who are in group programs for
much of the day to have some privacy. In fact, while teachers occasionally take
breaks, children are usually not allowed to leave the classroom. They are often
expected to remain with a large group of people for nine hours a day, or even
longer. As adults, we know the importance of building in time to be alone, to
think, to observe from a distance. Garden spaces can give children an oppor-
tunity for privacy or alone time. Teachers can build a special structure, such
as a trellis house, with this end in mind, or design the garden so that small,
6 • Chapter 1