Nature-based and embodied education program (NEEP)
The Nature-based and Embodied Education Program (NEEP) aims to integrate Natural sciences, Nutrition and Arts, promoting learning circumstances to encourage children’s connectedness to nature, awareness and appreciation of salutary food and healthy habits through experiential learning.
How to get involved?
The Pocket Garden is the starting point of the NEEP. For this purpose, we offer courses, teacher trainings and educational materials.
“Germinating Life, cultivating a Pocket Garden” is a teaching-learning guide for children and educators. This teaching material can inspire you to recreate your own activities. We can also visit your school or educational context to provide you with support and professional training.
Basic structure of the education program
Why is so important to get involved?
Reasons to take action
A large body of research demonstrates the benefits of interacting with nature which promotes stress reduction, cognitive aspects, memory, concentration and the ability to focus attention, thus becoming fundamental for child development. Additionally, numerous studies demonstrate that several physical and mental health problems are either triggered or exacerbated by a lack of contact with nature and are often helped by having increased exposure to natural surroundings.
In consonance with this, gardening activities, green schoolyard settings, visits to natural or wild areas and even schools grounded in natural surroundings exert a positive effect on stress coping, improving children’s academic performance, wellbeing and motivation related to nutrition behavior.
Our modern life-style, with a wide-spread lack of active movement and contact with nature, while increasing chronic stress in childhood, exerts influence on the general health problem and promotes a gap between children and nature, including the food they eat daily. Moreover, numerous studies demonstrate the alarming prevalence of eating disorders not only during childhood but also in youth, with the consequent consolidation of inaccurate eating habits during adulthood, which leads to a great diversity of psychophysical disorders. Therefore, encouraging healthy food preferences, particularly the consumption of fruit and vegetable, has become a challenging endeavor
Nowadays, there is a growing interest in networked learning communities, and we should not lose sight of promoting as well learning situations in real contexts involving living connection to children’s natural surroundings, to food’s origin and the complex processes they go through “from earth to plate”, to local markets that support sustainable communities, thus awakening their sense of responsibility and belonging to the same Earth that sustains us. The whole food environment or eating context, not only the school but also the family and the community, is a significant determinant of dietary behavior, thus involving as well children’s everyday life situations in informal circumstances.
Experiential learning not only involves cognitive abilities, but also feelings and emotions that foster a significant change in the meaning and perception of their experience. Innovative pedagogical approaches are needed to encourage adherence and engagement in wholesome food in order to enhance lifelong healthy eating, health promotion, and healthy habits since an early age.
The current environmental crisis certainly requires concrete actions through an interdisciplinary approach encouraging sustainable and healthy individuals, families and communities. Being aware of these issues will favor our consciousness and responsibility towards the food we eat, the model of agriculture that we support and the impact that our decisions exert on health, with its unavoidable implications on the environment. It seems opportune to foster children’s affective and meaningful experiences with nature and living processes, to encourage a heightened sense of awareness of the natural world.
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Technical and methodological competence
- Building up knowledge that is open to the world and integrating new perspectives.
- Think and act with foresight.
- Gain interdisciplinary knowledge.
- Recognize and weigh up risks, dangers and uncertainties.
- Being able to plan and act together with others.
- Being able to participate in decision-making processes.
- Motivate yourself and others to become active
- Being able to consider conflicting goals when reflecting on strategies for action.
- Being able to reflect on one’s own models and those of others.
- Ability to plan and act independently.
- Being able to show empathy and solidarity for the disadvantaged.
- Being able to use ideas of justice as a basis for decision-making and action.
Pocket Garden and implementation of the SDG
- Incrementation of nutritional values through high quality, vitality and nutrient-dense foods.
- No poverty and zero hunger. Creation of home-made products fostering local economy.
- Consumption of local food vs. kilometric food.
- Small-scale farming in metropolitan areas.
- Interest in cultural diversity.
- Partnership at eye level.
- Bringing school education into the family.
- Interest in qualified education.
- Strengthening the craft.
- Empowerment of women and gender equalities.
- Reconsidering traditional knowledge.
- Creating innovation and new infrastructures.
- Biodiversity, mindfulness of nature and caring for the environment.
- Sustainable sources of energy.
- Dealing with water and earth.
- Impulses for a sustainable community and strengthening society.
- Small-step and concrete measures for climate protection (particularly affordable by children).
- Developing resilience against the consequences of climate change.
Pocket garden and informal skills to achieve the SDG
- Self-determination on the learning object.
- Encouragement to subscribe.
- Trust courage.
- Mindfulness and serenity.
- Recognize existential interdependencies.
- Added value.
- Error friendliness.