Gardening with children is a great way to spend quality time, reconnect with nature and get some exercise. There are many techniques you can employ to make the experience even better.
The Benefits of Gardening With Children
1. Turn your family into gourmet chefs. Children will want to eat the fruits and vegetables they grow themselves and this gives them an exciting glimpse into the wonderful world of food. With a little imagination, you’ll cultivate a love for new food right in your house.
2. Make your children more environmentally conscious. TV and the internet encourage them to stay inside and away from nature. Letting them get dirty and plant things can bring a level of awareness to their dependence on the natural world – it teaches them about how we need plants and insects.
3. Reinforce a feeling of gratitude. It’s easy to forget all the effort that goes into producing the food we eat if we just order it online or pick it up at the store. Even a small venture into agriculture can increase our appreciation for the hard work involved
Looking for ways to teach your child to appreciate the people and environment in which your food is grown? Reinforce that sense of gratitude by growing your own. After seeing where and how things are done, you’ll find that they have more appreciation for the hard work that goes into producing everything we consume.
4. Get more active to keep kids fit! Children need to have a lot of exercise in order to stay healthy and avoid weight gain. Gardening and weeding are great ways to have some fun outside.
Tips for Gardening With Younger Children
1. Let your kids take the lead. Trust them to take the initiative and take a leadership role. Instead of telling them what to do, ask them what they want. Give praise and positive feedback as they learn from each action. Children could pick what they would like to grow or which gardening jobs they would like to take responsibility for.
2. Start off small. Break tasks down into individual steps. Encourage your children to choose plants that will grow with little effort. Beans are particularly easy to grow and offer a range of benefits. Plus, their large seeds make them a great choice for children to handle.
3. Ensure some quick results. Growing vegetables and herbs can be a great hobby for children. Keep their interest by adding some quick-growing plants. Radishes usually mature in 4 weeks, so they’re really fast-growing. Mixing in some small salad types with the larger ones can help develop fresh salad greens at the same time
4. Give opportunities to learn. Studies show that children who garden speak at higher levels and learn better. Your garden can be used to teach science, math, poetry, history and more – so take full advantage and turn your garden into a classroom!
5. Be safe. Teach your child important safety rules of the garden. Demonstrate how to use and store tools safely. Make it a rule that your kids have to ask an adult before they can eat anything that they have found from a plant in the garden.
6. Enjoy the process. There is a lot of potential fun in gardening. Try growing different and more unusual types of plants such as purple tomatoes and black carrots.
Tips for Gardening with Tweens and Teens
1. Let your older children guide your younger children. They can be the perfect role models and instructors and this can be very rewarding for both sides.
2. Keep the challenge going. Get your more experienced gardeners to set new goals and continue to learn. Encourage them to broaden their horizons by developing other gardening skills, like planting from seed and grafting.
3. Be aware of peer influence. New gardeners are a cautious bunch. If your teen is new to horticulture, they might be too wary to try anything that would make them stick out from their friends. Until there’s a game or TV show about gardening and plants, it can feel like the only people who get involved with plants are retirees. Tread gently but be encouraging. You may want to start off small. Herb gardens are a great first step to gardening that can be grown anywhere and even inside.
Gardening with your children will help you strengthen your relationship and may even save you money on your food shop. Help your children learn to appreciate nature’s bounty by getting them involved in the garden.