Using the Outdoors as a Classroom: REAL School Gardens
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April is Earth Month, a time when we all take a moment to appreciate our amazing planet and the importance of protecting it. Today we are featuring REAL School Gardens, a MAXIMUS Foundation partner organization, which helps kids to gain an appreciation for the planet at an early age.
The premise behind REAL School Gardens is simple: the organization creates gardens at poor and struggling Washington, D.C. area schools, giving students an opportunity to learn while getting their hands dirty. REAL School Gardens creates these outdoor classroom spaces by collaborating and training teachers on how to use the gardens as a means to educate students. The gardens, which are sustainably built, provide an opportunity for teachers to expose students to a wide variety of STEM topics, as well as the wonders of nature.
“Every single day students approached me about helping in the garden, asked questions about what was planted, and just enjoyed being in the space even if it wasn't their turn to assist in the garden. The students' energy and interest has made our learning garden an exciting part of our school community. I recently announced to our students that we will be starting a garden club this year. The response has been overwhelmingly positive! I look forward to working with our garden committee to help develop our students' green thumbs," shared a Special Education Teacher.
The results of REAL School Gardens have been incredible. A three-year study conducted by PEER Associates found that the REAL School Gardens program nearly doubles teacher effectiveness, increases student engagement and test scores, prepares teachers well, and improves teacher job satisfaction. REAL School Gardens transforms student’s education by improving the quality of their teachers and exposing them to the joys of being outside. REAL School Gardens reaches 5,300 students nationwide every year and continues to expand. A partnership with the MAXIMUS Foundation has helped the organization reach even more students at more schools.
Together, the MAXIMUS Foundation and REAL School Gardens make academic concepts come to life, enabling these students to, quite literally, grow. Click here to learn more about REAL School Gardens.