By: Vanessa Doyle, Lead Teacher in the Lily Garden Child Care Center Infant Room & Horticulture Coordinator
Pop quiz! Which of these would you like your child to improve on?
- How to make healthy food choices.
- How to cooperate well with others and engage in teamwork.
- How to increase their confidence and self-awareness.
- How to interact and connect with the natural world.
If you agree with one or any of these statements, your child would be a great gardener.
Gardening has been around for so long that people may not realize the positive effects it can have on our children and us. With more processed and highly sugared foods hitting the table, we are further away from where our food comes from than ever before.
Everyone agrees that eating healthy is good. It makes you feel better, gets you a good doctor’s report and prevents disease. But it can be really hard sometimes. After working all day and picking up the kids from school, going to soccer practice, therapy and homework; taking a swing threw the drive-thru seems like the only option available. But this option is causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease not only in us but also in our children.
So what can we do to turn that around?
We can start by establishing healthy eating habits young. These habits will last a lifetime.
Gardening is a great way to incorporate real fruits and vegetables into your home. It provides a learning opportunity for children to see where their food comes from. School or community gardens also offer an opportunity to interact with a group to practice socialization and teamwork. Once youth are involved in the growing process, they gain a sense of pride and ownership of what they created. This makes them more willing to try new foods and share. Often school can be an overload of sensory input. The garden provides a relaxing environment for everybody. Children can explore their senses by smelling flowers and hearing the sounds of nature around them.
How do I get started?
- Gardeners are great sharers! Ask friends, family and even us here at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley. Somebody usually has an extra plant or two to spare or a packet of seeds to share. If you can’t find any, your local nursery can help or you can order seeds online at Rare Seeds.
- Dedicate an area of your yard to be the garden. If you don’t have a plot of land to dedicate to a whole garden, that is okay too. Containers work well and can grow plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
- Make it easy on yourself. If you have never gardened before, it is as simple as putting a seed into the dirt, giving it sunlight and water and watching it grow.
Come by and check out our very own school garden grown by the kids in the Lily Garden Child Care Center at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley in Villa Park.
By: Vickie Robinson, Developmental Therapist & Kelly Lopresti
We truly feel an inclusive childcare environment is a wonderful experience for all Involved! With the recent 30th Anniversary of the Lily Garden Child Development Center here at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, we wanted to discuss all the benefits of an inclusive child care program and outline some ways to support children with special needs in your classroom. Children with special needs and typically developing peers benefit from an inclusive environment as well as teachers and family members.
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Students with Special Needs
- Friendships with same aged peers
- Increased social initiations, relationships, friendships and networks
- Peer role models for social, academic and behavior skills
- Increased achievement of therapy and Individual Family Service Plan/Individualized Education Program goals (IFSP/IEP)
- Greater access to general curriculum
- Enhanced skill acquisition and generalization
- Higher expectations
- Increased staff, parent and therapist collaboration
- Increased parent and teacher participation
- Families are more integrated into community
- Affords a sense of belonging
- Provides a stimulating environment for growth
12 Benefits of Inclusion for Typically Developing Students
- Meaningful friendships are cultivated
- Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity
- Develops respect for others with diverse characteristics
- Increases abilities to help others
- Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society
- Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others
- Greater academic outcomes
- Develops capacity for empathy
- All student’s needs are better met, greater resources for everyone
- Develops sensitivity toward others’ limitations
- Develops feelings of empowerment and the ability to make a difference
- Increases abilities to help others
In the California Department of Education’s Inclusion Works! Informational Booklet, they outline common modifications, adaptions and supports for an inclusive environment.
- Providing environmental supports:
- Using pictures or objects to signal next activities
- Making physical boundaries to decrease distraction
- Engineer classroom to support children of all abilities
- Lower hooks, make paths for children in wheel chairs
- Adapt materials. Examples include:
- Adding knobs to wooden puzzles
- Offer a variety of scissor, pen, marker, crayon options
- Use a tilt board or easel for easier viewing
- Activity Simplification
- Simplify complicated tasks by breaking them into smaller parts. For example, give child materials for a task one piece at a time.
- Be Aware of Child Preferences
- Use motivating subjects, toys and games to promote learning, participation and interaction
- Use of Special Equipment
- Use adaptive devices to maximize and facilitate participation. Making sure child care staff are trained by parents and therapists to properly use adaptive or medical equipment.
- Make sure children who need physical support are positioned optimally and are encouraged to play on the same level as peers.
- Adult Support
- Make sure staff is trained and comfortable in working with all children in their classroom. Having permission to interact and learn from a child’s therapist is important. Knowing a child’s goals and beneficial supports will benefit the child.
- Peer Support
- Use classmates as models to help children learn.
- Teach children specific ways to engage and interact with a child with special needs.
- Invisible Support- Arrange naturally occurring events to assist in inclusion.
- Assign roles during children’s play, such as having a child with limited mobility be in charge of “pumping gas” as the children riding bikes go by.
- Comment on children’s play in ways that encourage further interaction.
To learn more about the Lily Garden Child Development Center, our inclusive child care center here at Easterseals Dupage & Fox Valley please call Melissa at 630.261.6283.