Children learn by doing. If you want to instill good values, then gardening with your kids could be an excellent way to do that.
There are different ways your children can help out in the garden. It does not matter whether you have lived in a mansion with a huge garden or at home keeping the best hydroponic system. What matters is that you allow your children to contribute to the tasks in the garden.
BENEFITS OF GARDENING WITH YOUR KIDS
Countless studies have enumerated different benefits of gardening with your kids. Here are some of the most common benefits of gardening with your kids:
- Kids who do not like to eat a healthy and balanced diet will usually change their opinion about vegetables when they learn that these foods grow from gardens.
- Kids become more responsible when they are trusted with “adult” activities such as gardening.
- Gardening together as a family is a fun way to promote good relationships among family members.
- Kids learn about nature when gardening.
- Gardening instills important values and builds characters of kids.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PLAN TO GARDEN WITH YOUR KIDS A SUCCESS
- GIVE YOUR KIDS A PLOT OF SOIL TO CULTIVATE
A very good way to instill responsibility and sense of ownership to their hard work, make it a habit to give your kids their garden beds. It does not matter what type of garden you are planning to start –raised beds, containers, or ground plots. What is important is that the kids know where their “plot” starts and ends. The size of the area provided to your kids should depend on their age. Allow them to cultivate what you think is manageable for them for their size and skills. Make sure that their plots are located in strategic locations in the whole yard where the best soil and light are located. This sets them up for success.
For this matter, you can repurpose your yard. Your home and your yard are the worlds to your children when they are very young. As they grow older, they begin to abandon you and begin to play games with neighbors venturing out into the world. Once this happens, you should transform your yard into a garden plot that you kids can tend to. ‘Ownership’ of toys and space is important for a growing child. Having his or her plot to attend to reinforce that ownership, which soon extends to independence and confidence. Also, by transforming your yard into a garden, you make sure that despite children’s propensity to play outside, a good amount of time is still allocated at home.
- PROVIDE USEFUL TOOLS THAT CAN TRULY BE USED FOR GARDENING
Perhaps when shopping for toys you have come across some of those cheap plastic child’s gardening tools. Never buy these tools for your children. They may be children, but if you really want to make them work the yard, you need to give them the useful tools to do it. Of course, you should avoid really sharp objects. But for trowel, spade, and other gardening basics, make sure to provide your children with the real ones. Cheap toy tools will break easily and may frustrate your children when working in the garden. The cheap toys can be dangerous to use because they are not designed for actual work.
- ENGAGE CHILDREN IN ALL STEPS OF GARDENING
Experience makes learning easier for children than lectures. So if you want your kids to learn every aspect of gardening, you need to engage them through the entire process of gardening. So many things could be learned from their engagement in all of these activities. They will not only learn the step by step process of planting, watering, and harvesting crops, they will also learn that working and playing as a family is a fun thing to do. This is also a very good way to teach them about hard work, responsibility, and patience.
- PLANT USING SEEDS AND NOT STORE-BOUGHT SEEDLINGS
When you garden, make sure to start with seeds and not the seedlings of herbs that you can buy in flower shops. Sure, planting an already live plant is very convenient. It is a shortcut. However, kids will learn better about the life cycle of plants as well as the value of patience by showing them how plants grow from seeds.
- CHEAT THE SYSTEM
Not all tasks gardening is enjoyable. There are also tasks that are outright difficult for the small frame of children. Depending on your children’s age, you may cheat the system a little bit by helping them find success behind their backs. You can help ‘behind the scenes’ such as watering the plants when they are in school or even cleaning up the plot before they come back. Your goal in gardening with your children is to make them appreciate working together as well as the worth of taking care of their piece of the plot. You want to encourage good behavior. By helping them when they are not around, you actually set up their journey in gardening to a successful harvest.
- USE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
You can promote good behavior by showing off their work to the other members of the family. Praise them every time they decide to go outside to attend to their responsibilities in gardening. Learn to vocally appreciate their hard work and patience in taking care of their plot of the yard. All of these can easily motivate children to do more in their garden.
Written by Alan Wood, Founder of Weekend Gardner