As you plant and tend to your home garden this summer be sure to include the little ones in the journey from seeds to full bloom!
Of course kids love getting in the dirt and spending time with you, but the root of the lesson grows much deeper.
Gardening provides a holistic learning environment and allows children to indulge in lots of sensory stimulation.
The colors of the garden capture the rainbow. The smells of the soil and the tomato plant will remain in our memory forever. Food grown fresh from the garden has a flavor that can’t be replicated at any local grocery. Each plant and fruit has a different texture that we can identify even with our eyes closed. The beautiful sound of a bee pollinating the garden reminds us of the web of life. The garden has so many aspects of life for children to enjoy and learn from.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of gardening with your children as a fun family outdoor activity.
- Planning a garden each year gives the opportunity to practicemath skills, learn basicscience and improvereading skills through real-life experiences.
- Not all gardens are perfect. Your child will be curious about how the plants are doing and will probably run out to see the progress each day. The uncertainty of whether the plants are successful or susceptible to failure teachesemotional development.
- Waiting for the first sprouts to emerge and then the first bloom and ultimately the fruit teachespatience, which is important in a world of instant gratification.
- While honing math and science skills, gardening is a great place to learnproblem solving. Not only with the plants, but with the interaction between insects, sunlight, nutrients, and animals.
- Gardening can bephysically demanding which can help burn calories while helping brain alertness and cognitive abilities.
- Being in your own plot of nature reduces cortisol levels and is a greatstress reliever, relieves anxiety, and can help withdepression.
- It's empowering to see a plant grow from a seed. Taking care of the plantsbuilds confidence, especially when they taste that first carrot!
- Children learnresponsibility as they see how important it is to tend the garden daily. Theirobservation skills improve as they monitor growth and anything that needs attention.
- Achieving the goal of growing a garden buildsself-confidence.
- Planning the garden can be acreative experience as your child discovers different ways to grow food.
- Growing a garden takes commitment. Your child understands that it may be difficult to go away for a few days unless you have a trusted garden tender to watch over your plants while you are away.
- When you realize you cannot conquer every invader and enemy to your garden you and your child learn to let go - learn tosurrender.
- It’s difficult to be a picky eater when you grow the veggies yourself. Eating healthy is much more appealing when you can grab a carrot out of the ground and taste its sweetness.
Harvesting and preparing healthy meals for the family alongside your young ones is probably the best lesson of all.
Putting a garden “to bed” as winter approaches does not mean it's over. There are many ways to keep the momentum going all year long.
- Design next year’s garden in a creative way.
- Teepees or trellises are fun to make for the beans and peas.
- Making a scarecrow will help keep the birds away.
- A worm farm or compost bin will help the garden year round.
- Build a water feature, sundial, or decorative stones.
- Decorating garden tools.
Any time of year is a good time to start the garden, whether it's planning for next year by visiting the local garden center or making decorative objects to compliment the space. There are many questions to answer and plans to develop. Where will it be? What should be grown? What grows best in my region?
Just get out there and get your hands dirty!