In Bulgaria, the creative session for teachers was hosted in Muzeiko in May 9th, 2018
School directors, teachers and educators from Sofia, who are interested in developing educational gardens and children’s activities for 3-6 years, were invited to participate in the session. Unfortunately, because of the extremely busy schedule for kindergartens in May, only ten of the most motivated teachers have managed to attend the creative meeting.
In this small team with very high motivation to work, we held a very effective meeting of sharing our inspiration and experience, and creating a common vision for the next level of developing our competences in order to grow Gardens for complex and integral learning for kids 3-6.
Participants were representatives of three of the largest state kindergartens (with more than 250 children), two private kindergartens and one school, as well as the Muzeiko’s project team.
The specific aim of the meeting was to review the best practices from the participants’ personal experience and to identify their specific needs related to the development of complementary competencies and strategic resources necessary for carrying out full-scale educational activities with the children in the garden.
During the creative meeting the following questions were discussed:
- Presentation of the participants and their commitment to their garden.
- An overview of the achievements and challenges associated with each of their gardens.
- Specific needs for knowledge, information and resources needed for further and strategic development of the educational workshops in their garden.
- Competencies and Mutual Support Network needs
At the request of the participants, during the meeting and the coffee break, the MUZEIKO team held consultations on current specific technical and educational issues related to the gardens or the work with children in them.
All participants come from institutions where they already have educational gardens and they themselves have a high motivation to continuously develop educational modules to be held in the garden.
So far, they have used the Garden as a venue for demonstration of subjects related to planting and growing edible plants and healthy eating. At this stage, there are very few practices linking the learning curriculum with the activities in the garden.
The participants shared their interest in working with the children in the garden, but at the same time said they did not want gardening to become part of the formal curriculum. When asked why, they say that work in their garden provides them with pleasure and inspiration, and they do it with joy, but the “garden lessons” become a mandatory element, it will be an extra pressure and care for their over-aggravated curriculum.
The participants have no in-depth competencies related to the technical and specific botanical themes and specifics of the garden, they have no competencies and an overall vision related to the complex implementation of a complete course of educational activities with children in the garden.
Participants stated as a major problem the lack of practical and easily accessible didactic materials that can be used to help the teacher and during the practical exercises with the children in the garden.
The participants stated the need for additional knowledge, experience and information related to:
- guidelines for the technical construction and maintenance of the garden
- botanical information on the specific cultivation of edible plants
- resources and teaching aids for children, in the form of:
- maps to identify the life cycle of plants, to identify different plants, to track processes in the garden;
- posters with plant species;
- videos of the time lapse type;
- game scenarios, activities, rules;
- signs of appropriate behavior and label in the garden;
- a network of mutual support and the opportunity to get personal advice on specific issues.