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Florida Institute of Education

Family Garden and Engagement Program

The Family Garden and Engagement Program is an exciting new supplemental curriculum for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers designed by FIE. The focus of the project is to increase the conversations that children participate in to build background knowledge and vocabulary development.

Conversations build your child’s brain (even babies!) and gets them ready to learn, ready to read, and ready to succeed in school.

This program uses the novelty and ever-changing nature of the garden as a vehicle for teachers and families to have conversations with children.

The program contains five essential parts that work together to achieve the program’s goals: professional learning sessions for educators, family engagement, Talk-Time Practices, classroom and garden lessons, and garden beds.

garden bed with a sunflower wind toy

professional development with garden tools

Professional Development

The professional development, which includes teacher training (15 hours across the 3 plantings) and classroom support, combined with incentives for participation, helps to ensure that teachers offer high-quality learning opportunities to our youngest learners.

Teachers are learning how to have back-and-forth conversations with your children about the garden AND all day long.

garden bed with pots and windmills

family engagement and garden tools

Family Engagement

An innovative family engagement component fosters positive interactions with early learning centers and encourages families to extend their children’s learning at home.

Family engagement events are held during the fall, winter, and spring plantings to encourage families to become more engaged in their child’s learning and development. These events reinforce the idea that parents are their child’s first, longest, and most important teacher. Our goal for family engagement was to encourage family conversations with children and facilitate positive connections with centers. Each week, families received information about what their children are doing and learning in the garden and were given opportunities to extend the learning at home. Books and take-home activities are sent home to families as another way to encourage conversations.

Mother reading to kid.

talk-times practices and garden

Talk-Time Practices

Talk-Time Practices are questions, prompts, and cues teachers use with children. The Talk-Time Practices are aligned with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), and designed to be used during the weekly lessons and throughout the day to help increase the frequency and quality of teacher-child conversations and interactions.

lettuce in a flower bed

lessons and garden tools


Lessons are implemented two times each week. One happens in the classroom and one in the garden. Lessons also include children’s books and props to make learning fun.

Cover of the family garden preschool lessons

garden beds and garden tools

Garden Beds

Physical garden beds are planted seasonally with herbs and vegetables and provide the engaging setting and topical focus for the classroom and garden lessons.


view of several garden beds in a park Picture of a garden bed with cabbage seedlings growing. garden bed with vegetables



Questions? Want more information?


Emily Purvis Montford, Ph.D.
904 330 4064