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ASNEnvironment - Seeing shoots of growth

What the lesson is about

At first glance, Joe could have been any other 10-year-old boy tending a primary school garden. But as I watched him carefully pricking out the tiny seedlings and gently covering the earth with a small handful of soil, I felt an overwhelming surge of pride and pleasure, writes Anne Carter.

Just 12 months earlier, Joe had come to us as yet another five to 11-year- old excluded from school for bad behaviour. He was disruptive in lessons, confrontational to teachers and pupils, and antagonistic. He hated school and would do things his way or not at all, making teaching near impossible. Frequent arguments in class made it difficult for other children to learn.

The Royal Horticultural Society has a special educational needs family gardening project, which helped us to turn him around, improving his social skills and self-esteem, and teaching him to respect people's feelings.

Taking it further

Over two training sessions, pupils worked with their parents and teachers to carry out horticultural projects that included creating winter interest containers with bulbs and ornamental plants, and planting hardy seeds.

Joe appeared to find happiness in the calm environment of the garden, tending to the plants. And it seems he is not alone. Moving Up, Growing On, a report by the RHS, found that gardening helps to nurture friendships, offers a safe space to escape frustrations and creates calmer individuals, while giving children skills that aid the transition to adulthood.

What else?

For some visual stimuli to help pupils remember what's in the garden, try judy valentine's picture cards and bingo.

Rejuvenate your school grounds with StratfordCity's guide to starting a gardening club.

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