Want to start gardening with kids, but not sure how to get them more involved? This guide for parents will help you introduce your children to the love of planting growing their own food!
Kids love to get their hands dirty and explore the world around them. Why not take advantage of this interest by getting them involved in gardening? With a little guidance, they will have fun planting seeds, nurturing plants, and harvesting vegetables!
Benefits of Gardening With Kids
There are many reasons why introducing your children to gardening is beneficial – for everyone one involved. The following are just a handful of reasons why getting your children into gardening is a great idea.
Improve your child’s diet
A great way to encourage your kids to eat fruits and vegetables is by giving them a chance to create their own. If they grow it themselves, the anticipation of harvesting and eating will make them want to try new foods.
A better appreciation for nature
Nature has been shown to improve happiness. Outdoor activities such as gardening and hiking are key not only because they keep kids active, but also because they can inspire a new appreciation for the Earth by providing first-hand knowledge of Mother Nature’s magnificence.
Reinforce gratitude for food
Incorporate a sense of gratitude for food. It’s easy to take the cooking and producing of our foods for granted when we simply order them online or pick up those prepackaged meals at the grocery store. Even a brief trip into the garden will help make it clear how much effort goes into taking care of our agricultural needs.
Promote physical activity
Keeping kids active is a key factor in keeping them healthy, and gardening with kids will have them moving about and getting some much needed sun daily. Working on growing things–like planting and weeding–is an easy way to get children up and moving more, which benefits their physical health.
Gardening With Younger Children
It can be helpful to start gardening with your kids when they are young. They are more excited to learn something new. Since gardening is a skill that can be taken into adulthood, it’s a good idea to expose them to the hobby as soon as you can.
Even a three year old can enjoy planting seeds and using fun gardening toys to help out!
Below are some tips to keep in mind when you are gardening with young kids.
Give them the lead
Let children assume some control. Youngsters will need guidance and instruction, but let them take a leadership role over certain aspects of the project. They can help select plants they want to grow or tasks they like best.
* Over time, give your child more responsibility and praise him or her for being a capable helper.
Make it easy
Break down tasks into individual steps the child can comprehend. Don’t assume your child can instantly master hoeing or planting a row of seeds. Slow down the process and allow your kids time to complete bite-sized tasks on their own.
Encourage him or her to choose plants that will be easy for you to grow. Most beans thrive with little care and maintenance. Plus, their nutritional value is very beneficial to your child’s diet.
Provide quick rewards
To encourage their children to keep gardening, parents can plant a few early maturing crops to provide instant gratification. Radishes are usually ready to pick in less than three weeks. Mixing in some smaller lettuce plants with the larger ones will produce tender salad greens ready to harvest about the same time.
Offer learning experiences
Gardening with kids can be fun as well as educational. Even young children can have skills reinforced while playing in the dirt. You can have them count the seeds as they plant them, or identify colors in nature. Talk about how the weather affects plants, recite poems about flowers, or use the hobby to teach science principles.
You can also take the hobby indoors and continue the learning. Have your children read books about gardening, the fruits and vegetables they are currently growing, or common insects found in the soil.
We have a fun Plant Parenting Journey printable your kids can use to track their gardening hobby too!
Ensure their safety
Keep the kids safe while gardening at all times. In cities, you need to get your soil tested to make sure there is no lead in it. Children should ask an adult before they eat any plants. Avoid chemicals that are dangerous and be careful with sharp tools – gardening tools designed for kids are always best.
Always make it fun
If gardening with kids isn’t fun for them, they aren’t going to want to continue. Introduce your kids to the idea of inviting friends over and having them help you in the yard or garden. They can take pride in showing off the plants they have grown. Unusual varieties of plants can be hilarious, so shop around for seeds that produce vegetables with unusual colors and odd shapes.
Gardening with Tweens and Teens
It isn’t too late to practice gardening with kids once they are older. You just have to change up how you introduce the hobby, as they may not be as keen to jump right in the dirt as smaller children are.
Let the older kids lead the young
Have your older children guide their younger siblings in gardening. Middle school and high school students often enjoy the opportunity to mentor or instruct their younger counterparts, which strengthens bonds between siblings.
Encourage bigger goals
To keep kids love of gardening fresh, encourage them to set new goals. They will have exposure to horticulture early on and it is important to make the experience stimulating for them by supporting their learning of new skills. Who knows, they may find a new career path if they really enjoy working in the garden!
Don’t force gardening with kids
Be gentle with new gardeners. Teens may feel hesitant to do anything that would make them stand out from their peers. Until gardening becomes just as cool as a reality TV show or video game, tread lightly until they’re comfortable showing interest in it themselves.
* You may want to start with indoor herb gardens. They are easy and practical, and even children can keep one going.
Gardening with kids can be a wonderful experience for the entire family. It gets children off their devices and out of the house. They learn new skills and gain responsibility of taking care of something else – which can reinforce maturity and the need to complete tasks they begin. The bonds your family can create in the garden will last a lifetime. Gardening can also help your family save money by reducing your grocery bills.