Children have an innate need to get their hands dirty and explore their world. They are so curious about nature; and as parents and educators, it is important that we give them as many opportunities as possible to explore and discover the natural environment around them. Luckily, spring is just around the corner (I hope) and there will be plenty of opportunities to get out and do something with your child in which they can both have fun and learn.
Gardening with your kids is a wonderful opportunity for families to put away the electronics for a little while and get outside together. Children will benefit from the fresh air, exercise, learning how things grow, and the responsibility of taking care of their own plants.
Besides learning about how things grow, children gain a sense of where their food comes from and they may be more willing to try fruits and vegetables that they have grown themselves. Gardening also makes a great precursor to trips to the farmer’s market where kids can meet local farmers, ask questions and learn even more. They will take delight in watching something grow just from sunshine and water and will enjoy watching the bees, butterflies and other insects come to visit their plants. Even if you just plant a few flowers, your kids will love being involved in picking the perfect flowers and beautifying your yard. Let their artistic side shine and see how they put colors together, and mix different sizes and shapes of flowers. It’ll be very interesting to see what blooms.
Some of the most important reasons for getting children to get their hands dirty and do something like gardening is because it teaches them how to care for the earth. It teaches them that they may be able to feed themselves from the land if they have to and if they want to know where their food is coming from. It teaches them to be responsible stewards of their environment and we need as many of those as we can get!
Hands-on experiences that they can share with their family is something that will stick with them for years to come. I still remember going out to my grandfather’s garden watching him till the soil and him letting me harvest the crop of fruits and veggies that he grew. I loved it. There is something very satisfying about being able to pick your food fresh off the vine. The best part was that I got to spend one-on-one time with my grandfather.
By waiting for seeds to sprout and flowers or veggies to grow, children also learn patience. They begin to realize that some things take time and there is not always going to be instant gratification. Also, the excitement when they see that first little sprout is always well worth the work. Even if you have a lawn the size of a postage stamp, you can plant something. Get a little planter and put it on the porch. Plant some herbs in a box in the widow sill. Plant vertical herb gardens. Or, join the local community garden. Not only is that a great option for gardening, but connecting to other members of the community as well.
So when the snow finally melts and the earth thaws out, think about getting some soil and seeds and planting a garden with your children. It will be an experience that you can both enjoy and remember for years to come. For more information on gardening with your kids, check out these sites: