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Getting Hands Dirty: A Good Thing, Really!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Earth School, Featured | 0 comments

image-8-2Anyone can give a farm tour, or lead students on a field trip, but lasting educational impact comes with real experiential learning. Whatever you do with children in a farm-based or gardening situation has to be hands-on, in which the children actually get dirty.

To really understand soil and compost, you have to get your hands in it. To really understand why worms are heroes, you have to pick them up. To get the thrill of eating a fresh strawberry, you have to pick it right from the patch and pop it in your mouth (without washing it).

hands-with-potatoes-copySloshing through the stream while learning about the water cycle, jumping in puddles to discover the meaning of watershed, falling in the muddy wetland pond while attempting to catch frogs – these are experiences that teach, because all of the senses are involved. Hands and clothes can always be washed later.

It’s true that some children cry that their parents will be angry if their shoes got muddy, but at Earth School we know the opposite is true: most parents actually thank us for providing a safe environment in which their children can get tired and dirty the old-fashioned way. Yes, some public school teachers will insist on students using hand sanitizer before eating lunch, but that doesn’t diminish the experience of having held a goat’s warm, furry face against your face, or the tickle of a horse’s slobbery lips in your palm as you feed it a carrot. A powerful educational experience is an impactful one, and it is one that causes children to retain important information.

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