Growing Minds: Evaluating the Effect of a School Garden Program on Children’s Ability to Delay Gratification and Influence Visual Motor Integration
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Youth in today’s society have a multitude of opportunities at their disposal that encourage instant gratification. Technology is paramount almost everywhere and allows information transfer and communication at the touch of a fingertip. Often there is no force to inhibit impulses or delay gratification unless an individual imposes these strategies upon him or herself. While technology allows access to desirable information, it can also encourage sedentary behaviors through computer and gaming usage, which is especially dangerous to our nation’s youth who are facing obesity challenges and need to be honing motor skill development and self-control strategies. Since delaying gratification and appropriate motor skill development have been linked with successful academic achievements, there has been a rise in interest regarding interventions that could address these challenges. It is especially important to encourage healthy behaviors and an active lifestyle early, which makes interventions in early school years a special area of interest. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a school gardening program on children’s ability to delay gratification and examine the influence of a school garden program on children’s visual motor integration. The sample of this study was drawn from children ages 2-6 in a combination of private preschool programs that had no active garden on site. Treatment and control schools were selected based on similar teaching methodologies. Pre and posttest measures were taken for delay of gratification using a predetermined script created based on previous research in the field and visual motor integration was measured using Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration 5th Edition (short form). Results from this study showed no significant main effect between the treatment and control schools in regards to change in delay of gratification times or visual motor integration from pre to posttest. However, further analysis of gender revealed interesting trends relating to both measures. For delay of gratification, females showed a response to the intervention through a trend of increasing control at the project end. The Beery Visual Motor Integration measure revealed a statistical significance in average scores for males (F=5.22; p=0.028) between control and treatment groups. These insights provide a starting point for future studies examining gardening programs as an intervention.
Lillard, Aime Jo Sommerfeld (2016). Growing Minds: Evaluating the Effect of a School Garden Program on Children’s Ability to Delay Gratification and Influence Visual Motor Integration. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from