On October 11 our partner from Hungary Hand in Hand Foundation took part on the following Hungarian conference:
Yard and nature in education
VII Conference on Early Childhood Education
The Section C of the conference was about:
Nature as a motif in the spirit and practice of reform pedagogical trends
Presentation of alternative programmes and round table discussion with the audience
A sustainable farming and nature-based pedagogical programme of a farm nursery, the Edu-Lab Natural Science Playhouse, and the nature education programme of the Rogers School in Budapest were in this section.
The introduction and presentation of the Yard4All project complemented them well, both in its approach and in the practical manuals that can be easily adapted to school and kindergarten practice. Most of the participants were enthusiastic about the downloadable materials in Hungarian language.
The pilot phase of the Yard4All Project has been successfully implemented and completed in Spain. Primary school students between 6 and 12 years old were able to participate in the activities within the framework of the project.
Despite the complications in which the project was implemented: the moments of health crisis, the measures carried out by the governments to prevent the expansion of cases, the return to normality and the changes of personnel in the participating entities, during the school years 2021 and 2022 it was possible to implement the activities in the Juan Alonso Rivas school.
Figure 1: CEIP Juan Alonso Rivas, Colomera, Granada, Spain
The school had the participation of 4 teachers fully involved in the project, 18 students from different grades (some of them with special educational needs), parents and DEFOIN project technicians.
Figure 2: Online meeting to arrange the implementation of the activities
The experience began with the implementation of the activities of the IO3 Guide, Entrepreneurship and Marketing Guide for children. Thanks to the implementation of the activities of the guide and as a final conclusion of the teachers exposed in the Community of Practices that were held, the links between the centre and the pupils were strengthened, managing to reduce school abstinence by up to 100% of the 5th year Primary class of the 2021 school year in the school. The students enjoyed the experience of discovering new tools and their own skills by creating a prototype company where they could start to develop new skills, especially in groups.
The attendance of the teachers to the training mobilities developed and implemented by the project partners was a further input of the benefits of this project for the Colomeran community in Granada. In these trainings, teachers were able to discover new ways of teaching, to network with other European schools and other teaching professionals in different contexts, as well as to learn first-hand about the work carried out within the project.
With the implementation of the IO4, Mathematical Concepts and IO5, Science and Drawing guides, the students were able to deepen their curricular knowledge and learn in a more empirical way, enjoying the game and the school while learning about the functioning of a vegetable garden in a parallel way.
School absenteeism in Spain is one of the highest in Europe. "Truancy" is defined as "unjustified non-attendance at school by a minor of compulsory school age". In the Spanish case, the compulsory school age is from 6 to 12 years old.
In the Alonso Rivas school, a participant in the Yard4All project, the rate of truancy is quite high.
The school covers education from the age of 3 to 12 years old and is part of the compulsory education system in Spain. The school is located in Colomera, a village in the province of Granada with a total of 1,298 inhabitants; the school is located in a rural area, where 17% of the population is under the age of 20. Although the classrooms of the Alonso Rivas school do not have a high number of students, absenteeism in its classrooms is high.
Although the data dropped slightly before 2020, in the last two years, the number of cases has been adversely affected by the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on classrooms, especially in rural areas: mainly due to the technological gap between schools and families in rural areas, as well as the low purchasing power of families, which has a direct impact on the relationship between students and the education system in the classroom.
On 22 March 2022 we had a meeting with the partners of the YARD4ALL project where we were able to share the work developed based on the peer to peer model (IO2) and the entrepreneurship guide for children IO3). At the meeting, part of the teaching staff of Alonso Rivas school was able to share the activities developed within the framework of the project with the students of the different courses. One of the points that the teacher Ana Belén Bayona Túnez wanted to highlight during the implementation of the project activities in her classrooms was that, thanks to the involvement of the students in the school garden, the absenteeism rate decreased considerably. When the activities started to be implemented, the classroom had a total of 8 students, of which one was always missing, so they were never all together. Throughout the activities, teacher Bayona managed to get the students in her classroom to attend more regularly, and they were even able to go several days without absenteeism.
In conclusion, we would like to highlight that projects such as YARD4ALL have a direct impact on the relationship students establish with their classrooms, teachers and schools, as well as the perception they receive of the education system, often failing to meet their expectations. The world is constantly changing and realities adapt. It is time for formal and non-formal education to come together and cooperate for the well-being of individuals, and for quality education, especially in schools to promote a more inclusive and active citizenship.
This article was written by Aproximar
The following article involves the steps that have been carried out since the start of the Yard4All project in the garden activity of the Colomera School, in Granada. In this, the teacher Francisco Javier Sánchez shows the current state of the garden and share some conclusions about the participation in this activity.
“In this article, I will try to sequence from the preparation of the garden, to the current state of our plantation of broad beans and the future actions that must be carried out to conclude with the harvest.
At the end of October we cleared the part of the garden where we decided to place the allotment for the plantation of broad beans.
In the first ten days of November, the allotment was fertilised with mulch and strings were laid out to serve as a guide/frame for planting the broad bean seeds.
The day before sowing, the reserved beans from last year's harvest were taken out and soaked for 24 hours to encourage germination, and the pupils were able to observe how after 24 hours soaking they already had their first sprouts.
The main objective is that the students can live and experience in first person the whole process, from the preparation of the land that has been dedicated to the cultivation of broad beans (weeding, fertilisation of the allotment, preparation of the planting guide frame, preparation of the seeds, planting, watering, maintenance, removal of weeds, fertilisation, pest control) until the harvest is obtained.
In the following weeks, weeding, fertilising and watering will be carried out in order to encourage the growth of our broad bean plantation.
During flowering, the pupils will be able to see that for each bush of broad beans that results from one seed, we will obtain several pods of broad beans, experiencing that from one seed we obtain many more broad beans, giving place to the harvest or production.
The conclusions that the students are reaching and will reach is that they will value the work, dedication and perseverance, among others, that the farmers of our environment carry out in order to be able to have and enjoy at home the products of agricultural origin.
The conclusion we can reach is that traditional agricultural processes, with the exception of agricultural processes in greenhouses, are natural and seasonal processes, and regardless of the situation we live in, Covid-19, they continue their course.
The Yard4All project continues in DEFOIN with the activity of the students of Colomera in the school garden. Especially, the students are currently immersed in the care of the bean plantation in which they have been working during all these months with their classmates and teachers, hoping that in the coming months they can reap the fruits of this harvest. However, although there is still a long way to go, the students are enjoying and learning from all the stages of this activity.
Their participation in the project is offering them a new situation in which to interact with their peers: inside the classroom, but at the same time outside of it; combining in a single activity behaviors and emotions that do not occur in a normative school experience. In addition, the work in the garden is allowing students, while enjoying this activity and working with their peers, to learn to value the dedication, work and effort needed to carry out their own project, something that will undoubtedly serve as a first experience for their personal and professional future.
On the other hand, from DEFOIN we have followed this creation and maintenance of the school garden very closely, making several visits to the center and having a close contact with the teachers involved in this activity. In turn, the teachers have shared with us their experiences and opinions regarding the implementation of the Yard4All project in the school, all of them positive, and the excitement of the students every time they take a step further in the project. This leads us to think how important the implementation of new and more participatory activities is in education and the benefits of them, both for students and teachers, and both professionally and personally.