Spring is already pushing its way out whether you are ready for it or not! I am definitely ready to welcome the birds, the buds and the scent of freshly turned earth back again. I’ve been reading lots of gardening tips for getting kids involved in the garden. This year I want to be intentional about getting the kids out and involved with the garden, I hope you will make the same commitment too!
The benefits to getting your kids involved in the garden are numerous and worth the extra effort. Whether you are working on fruits, veggies, or attracting birds and butterflies with beautiful flowers, children have no better classroom than a garden.
What makes gardening so beneficial? Here are a few reasons why I think it is so important to get your kids involved with gardening and how to keep them engaged and enjoying the experience.
One of the first and most obvious benefits is that you are letting your child help you provide the family with food that is not only healthy and nourishing, but unlike most supermarket produce, you can control and keep the pesticides and other chemicals out of it. Got a picky kid? While it is not a miracle cure, one of my best gardening tips is that you will find a child that works in the garden is much more likely to try things that they have had a part in growing.
Oh the benefits of sunshine and fresh air! Healthy pink cheeks, sparkling eyes and a hearty appetite will all come from getting generous helpings of good old vitamin D naturally from the sun. Children will sleep better with adequate levels of vitamin D not to mention it also boosts their immunity and strengthens bones.
Give them their own little area to tend, be it a spot in your garden, their own square or a container. Watching something that their little hand put in, tended and plucked out will give them an invaluable pride in their work. A lot of kids think that the food they see on their plate – potatoes, green beans, etc. – comes from the grocery store. They do not realize the process behind it at all. Helping in the garden will give them an appreciation for the food that they eat and the work that goes into it.
Build amazing memories and lifelong bonding moments with your child as you dig, mulch and taste the fruit of your labors. Your child will long and fondly remember the times you spent together in the garden working, even if all you had to show for it was a couple scraggly carrots and a giant radish.
Beyond the benefits of learning about tending a garden, there is no better classroom for a child than a spot where at any given moment they can investigate and learn about soil, trees, bugs, weather, birds, butterflies, bees, ants or a million other things. Gardening puts children right in the center of a bright and interesting world that they will naturally crave to know more about.
Rich Learning Experience
Looking for gardening tips for homeschooling? You can easily turn gardening into a lesson in writing, math, spelling and critical thinking.
Older children can draw a diagram of your garden plot, deciding what to put where, research what is best grown together and what should never be grown together, make a list of the seeds you need and make handmade garden markers. Let your child research your zone and decide what grows best there.
Take a sample of your soil to your local extension office where they will test it and tell you what it needs or what needs to be cut down for success. Kids will find this process fascinating and can also help you amend the soil with natural products.
Children learn all these things and more in the garden:
- Self confidence
- Nature discovery
- Cause and effect
Gardening Tips for Getting to Work in the Garden
Now it is time to put them to work and let them see the benefits of applying themselves to their little patch of earth. Now that you have them in the garden, what’s next? How do you keep them engaged and excited about digging in the dirt?
- Start by getting them some tools of their very own and teaching them how to care for and put them away. A small tote, gloves, a trowel and hand rake are good basic pieces. Giving them ownership will give them confidence in their own abilities and tools in their size makes the job more manageable and also safer.
- Next, let them make some of the choices on what to plant, give them some say and watch their eyes light up. Start with things that have a higher success rate and are known to be pretty easy to grow. How satisfying those little sprouts will be and kids will be very excited about the outcome. Some plants that are fairly easy to grow are things like peas, radishes, cabbage, sunflowers, potatoes, strawberries and pumpkins. You can decide whether to start from seeds or plants. It is fun for children to see the experience from start to finish, so I like to grow almost everything from seeds.
- Give them jobs like watering, mixing soil, weeding after you have demonstrated, planting, harvesting, fertilizing, re-potting plants, mulching, “stirring” the compost and fertilizing. Work together to plant, care for and finally harvest your bounty.
- Finally, to keep their intention add fun little vignettes and whimsy in or near the garden. Some fun ideas are a small fairy garden tucked in among the cabbages, a pretty bird bath to attract backyard birds, a shady spot to sit and watch, fun garden markers or brightly painted gnomes.
Before we close though let’s talk about garden safety with a few gardening tips and reminders…
Gardening tips for kids: Garden safety
- Teach your child to use and store tools safely.
- Keep sprays and fertilizers locked away (or better yet don’t use them at all).
- Apply a natural sunscreen before going out and throughout the day.
- Wear sun hats and glasses.
- Stay hydrated with water for everyone!
- Empty all buckets and tubs when done to discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.
What are your best gardening tips for getting kids involved in the garden?
Feature image credit: Jack Frog / Shutterstock