Kids should be taken out in the open regularly, and let to enjoy nature and all its offerings. It is one of the biggest joys of childhood, full of great moments for both you and your kids.
That?s why gardening is one of the healthiest activities which can teach your kids about getting closer to nature, eating organic food and healthy living. Just keep in mind it?s a long term project that requires patience and dedication.
There?s no child in the world that doesn?t enjoy getting dirty outside, observing worms, making mud pies, or simply digging dirt. But gardening is not only about fun – your kids will advance important traits and learn new skills while caring for the plants around them.
Hand them the can
Watering is one of the simplest gardening tasks, so it?s an activity even toddlers can handle. All you have to do is to provide them with a plastic watering can and show them how to water the plants. This simple activity will definitely make your little ones feel empowered, and you can teach them about plant biology in the process.
Keeping it clean
One of the most educational tasks, and therefore an essential one, is pulling weeds. The first thing you?ll want to teach your kids is how to keep a garden clean. First, you need to explain to them how weeds are harmful to other plants after which you can simply provide them with suitable garden tools. Identifying the weeds is crucial – and effective removal differs by species, so they?ll need some of your expertise in the beginning to tackle the intruders. But don?t underestimate their desire to explore – soon they?ll be able to differentiate the good from the bad themselves and understand how their habitat functions better. The point is to make them understand the importance of weeding for the healthy growth of plants.
While grownups consider setting up a compost heap far from a glamorous task, for your kids this could be a lot of fun since they usually love the idea of muck and mess. There are several ways to get started and you can make compost in a box, bin, or simply a heap – the very process is quite easy. After the compost is set-up you should let your children take responsibility and make sure it?s ?well-fed?. Combine responsibility and creativity – put them in charge of emptying a bucket for food scraps every day, but also encourage them to decorate it. If you make them a part of this process from the start they won?t look at it as a chore.
Let them create their own world
When it comes to planting, you should start small – with miniature gardens. The reason why this activity will be so exciting for your kids lies in the fact they?ll be able to create their own flowering world. So provide them with a plant-holder and guide them with how to fill it with soil. Then help them plant some cacti or succulents in it. In the end, it?s time to populate the world – encourage them to place figures and toys among the plants – cowboys, dinosaurs, etc. – let them make the choice. While this is a great way to promote creativity and imagination of your kids, it is also a road to their active part in gardening.
When it?s time to plant outside their miniature world you need to make sure the process stays equally creative so they?ll fall in love with it. First of all, you need to let them know it?s still their world – allot a special corner of the garden that will be solely under their care. Then encourage them to design it in any shape they wish – like a pizza for example. Help them divide it into slices with plastic or wood dividers, then assist them to plant different seeding in slices of their choice. This will not only improve organizing and planting skills of your young ones, but it will also boost their knowledge about flowering plants and certainly generate further interest in their gardening activities.
Labels & signs
In order to teach them the importance of organization, help your kids to make garden signs and labels which will identify all the plants in the garden. You can make these from everyday materials such as bits of old timber or ice cream container lids. It is another great way to boost the creativity of your children – you could use everything that comes to your mind, even shells or flattened spoons. Your kids will gain knowledge about different plants and learn about reuse and recycling in the process.
In the end, give them a basket and let them pluck the ripe vegetables and fruits. Talk to them about healthy foods in the process and encourage them to ask questions. This will certainly instill healthy food habits in them and complete their hands-on experience about growing foods, making them realize the important role nature plays in all our lives.
As you can see, gardening can be a lot of fun, but also a source of numerous valuable lessons for your kids (and perhaps even yourself). It will get them closer to Mother Nature, boost their confidence, planning, and organizing skills, and teach them about patience and responsibility.
Bethany Seton is a recent economy graduate. Before settling in an office, she decided to follow her passions for writing and traveling. Currently, she travels with her laptop and writes for various blogs, hoping one day she will gather all the experience she gets in one book.