Gardening With Children
This year brought so many unexpected things. Who knew that there would be flour and toilet paper shortages?
Yes, COVID-19 forced us all to adapt. More people took up gardening this year, too.
Gardening With Children: Why It’s More Than Just a Fun Activity!
With so many kids learning from home this school year, there’s an opportunity to throw in experiential learning with their regular schoolwork.
Gardening with children is a beautiful way to share your love of gardening and teach your kids valuable lessons about food and the environment.
Do you want to know why and how kids can get involved in gardening? Read on to learn the main benefits for kids and how you can get them started.
Benefits of Gardening with Children
Do you remember playing whiffle ball or kickball outside with other kids in your neighborhood? That time spent outdoors was valuable. It kept you physically active, connected to the outdoors, and you had social time built in.
Today’s kids don’t have that same experience. Kids between 8-12 years old spend three times more time in front of screens than they do outside.
We don’t know the full extent of the impact so much screen time has on kids. We do know that it’s tied to an increase in mental health issues in kids.
Getting kids in the garden is a way for them to get outside. They can get dirty and connect with nature in ways that kids just don’t do anymore.
Gardening Builds Confidence
Any activity that can build up self-esteem in kids is a good one to do. Gardening is an enriching experience where you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Kids can see the results of their work as seeds sprout. They learn to be responsible for the plants as they grow by watering them regularly. They get to pick the plants when they’re ripe and enjoy them.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
One of the rewarding aspects of gardening is that you get to eat what you grew from yourself. Kids are bombarded with opportunities to eat junk food.
Unfortunately, these things are loaded with sugar. About 20% of kids between 12-18 are prediabetic as a result of these food choices.
A garden shows them the value of good food and encourages them to eat better. They can relate to their food because they grew it themselves.
Gardening is an excellent metaphor for life. It’s a beautiful combination of creativity and science. Children learn about soil acidity and how individual plants are affected by too much or too little acid.
Younger kids begin to understand the sun and a necessary ecosystem of a garden.
You can take the STEM lessons a step further by cooking the produce together. Kids can learn how heat changes the molecular structure of food, which ultimately changes food taste.
Food Justice and the Garden
Do you believe that healthy food is a right? Food justice is doing your part to ensure affordable, healthy foods in all communities, not just in the fancy grocery store.
It’s possible to turn your little home garden into a food justice center.
You can teach your older kids about the economic consequences of food. Cheap, processed food has a cost that people don’t think about. These foods contribute to climate change and obesity.
The costs of obesity and climate change can be added to the cheap cost, revealing a very different story about these inexpensive foods.
Tips to Start Gardening With Your Kids
Do you want to know how to garden with your kids? Talk to them about gardening and your experience with gardens. Tell them that it’s a great way to get dirty and play outside.
That might make them curious about gardening. They’ll want to learn more and try it themselves.
Let Kids Get Involved
Kids won’t have fun gardening if they’re following your orders. Instead of just telling them what to do, get them involved in the process.
Let them help you pick out herbs and vegetables to plant. You should check out seed providers and order catalogs. This will help you plan your garden.
They’ll learn how to plan a garden, what plants work well together (tomatoes and garlic), and which plants attract pollinating insects.
Another area where kids can get involved is in decorating the garden. Some sites have a lot of tips about decorating your garden with art. Visit sites like House Beautiful and this site: https://nature-niche.com/blogs/news/next-level-landscaping-how-to-decorate-your-outdoor-space-with-metal-garden-art
You can turn it into a craft project by making some of your decorations. A practical craft project is making plant markers.
Start Seeds Indoors
You can slowly introduce your kids to gardening by planting seeds indoors. Kids will be able to check out the seeds as they come to life.
Some plants like tomatoes and basil are best when the seeds are started indoors about eight weeks before planting.
That gives them enough strength to withstand any cold nights and grow faster once outside. The harvest season is a little longer, too.
Document the Garden
Another crafty idea is to turn your garden into a scrapbooking project. A garden journal is useful to have because you record the weather, document growth and challenges.
Take plenty of notes and pictures of your kids playing in the garden. These are memories that will always be with you.
Gardening with Kids Is Worth It
There are a lot of benefits of gardening with children. It gets them away from electronic screens and enhances their connection to food. They are more inspired to eat healthier.
You can use the opportunity to bond with your kids and introduce them to scientific concepts. It’s a win-win situation.
Get them involved in the garden and enjoy your time together. You and your kids will reflect on it fondly. For more great parenting tips and advice, head over to the Parenting section of this site.