Some of the best memories from my childhood involve helping my mom plant flowers and planting rows of sweet corn (and having a mud fight in the patch after the rain) with my dad. I try to have my kids involved in my gardening efforts just as my parents did with me. They even have their own child-sized garden tools! Having your kids in the garden actually has some great benefits for them in addition to the heart-warming memories. Whether you have a large garden or a container garden on an apartment balcony, you can enjoy the benefits of gardening with kids!
I have invited Shary Cherry from sharycherry.com to tell you a little bit about 6 benefits of gardening with kids (I added a few more for you at the end).
Many adults have fond memories of helping their parents in the garden as kids. I can recall back watching my grandpa plant gladiola bulbs as I scattered radish seeds. In today’s busy life, a garden seems like another added project, but with a small plot, it can offer a rich learning opportunity. Gardening with kids allows the little ones to gain in significant ways — with just the little extra push on your side.
From an emotional standpoint, kids learn to be patient and responsible while caring for tiny seeds as they grow into mature plants. Moreso, they discover self-satisfaction while raising something beautiful. In fact, the mere act of just digging and planting helps in physical development, strengthening both fine and gross motor skills.
With spring onset, now it’s time to prepare for a sowing season, and it’s an ideal time to get kids excited about gardening. Here some of the amazing benefits of gardening with kids.
Benefits of Gardening with Kids
Benefit #1: Gardening Engages All the Senses
Kids learn best when all of their senses are engaged. Guess what gardening is full of?? Sensory experiences!!
Children can feel and touch the dirt, flowers, and seeds, see the varied sizes and vibrant colors of the flowers, hear the vegetable sound when cutting from the plant alongside smelling the amazing scents from flowers. They will also experience new sensations like feeling a worm crawl across their hand and dirt underneath their fingernails. This is wonderful for children’s sensory development and growth.
Benefit #2: Gardening Enhances Fine Motor Skills
Scooping up dirt, placing seeds in pots, pouring water, and using a garden hose all take fine motor strength and control. As kids garden, they develop important motor skills which will help them to prosper in their academic skills, including writing, typing, and cutting.
Start gardening with your kids to improve their fine motor development!
Benefit #3: Gardening Enhances the Ability to Organize and Plan
Those who garden often tend to understand that organizing and planning a garden can at times be time-consuming and somewhat an art form. For instance, preparing the front yard landscaping, knowing which flowers will bloom at what time of the year, the duration in which the seed will take to turn to a vegetable and when to get some fertilizers for the vegetable garden.
Involving children in this process will foster their planning skills and how to solve problem swiftly. Also, it enhances their organizational strategies that can be carried over their facet of life!
Benefit #4: Gardening Introduces Children to Scientific Concepts
When kids scatter their first seeds, they become more curious about what might happen next. Also, the kids can make their hypothesis as they monitor the progress of the plant each day. And without kids realizing, they’re learning the basic steps of the scientific process.
As the kids get older, the science of plants is expounded upon. For example, the kids learn about the long-term effects of water and sunlight on the plant. More than that, they now learn which plants need sunlight and which need less water to grow well. Gardening offers an excellent science lesson just right at home!
You can even turn your garden into a homeschool science project! Create a separate area in your garden for your kids to experiment in. Let them plant seeds and use different types of compost, water amounts, etc on each one. Have them write (or tell) their hypothesis about how each seed with different advantages & disadvantages will grow.
Benefit #5: Gardening Teaches Patience
When I started the gardening process along with my kids, they began to learn the importance of patience. Preschoolers are used on immediate gratification; and yet gardening is a pretty slow process. And through this, kids learn to be patient while waiting for their vegetables and flowers to grow. Actually, the waiting makes the moment of the vegetables and flowers sprouting even more exciting!
Benefit #6: Gardening Fosters Family Bonding
Growing a family garden is a great way to spend quality time with your kiddos and other family members.
Shary Saunders is a blogger at sharycherry.com.
Gardening and landscaping have been her passion for years.
You can find Shary on Twitter at @SharySaunders.
>>>READ ON FOR MORE BENEFITS OF GARDENING WITH KIDS!<<<
Benefit #7: Gardening Introduces Kids to the Natural World
When kids are in the garden, they are surrounded by nature. From the plants that they will grow and harvest to the worms and bugs in the soil. As they observe, they will learn how all things work together to make our world go round and develop a love of nature that they may not have experienced before.
Benefit #8: Gardening Encourages Natural Curiosity
Children are naturally curious, but this curiosity is often stunted by the modern stationary lifestyle. Getting kids in the garden will allow them to explore, create, and grow with little restriction.
Benefit #9: Gardening Encourages Healthy Eating
Kids are much more likely to eat healthy food like fruits and vegetables when they have a hand in growing them.
As your children nurture, grow, and harvest they build great pride and an attachment to their plants. When you prepare the foods after harvest, be sure to let the kiddos be involved so that they know what they are eating is exactly what they grew. Even picky eaters will be excited to give it a try!
They can even eat their homegrown fresh food right there in the garden!
Benefit #10: Gardening Teaches Responsibility
Giving the kids responsibility in taking care of a garden is a good way to help them build character based on hard work and reliability.
Children can tend to their own garden space where they will take care of their seeds, nurture tender plants, and harvest full grown produce. Older kids can even help build compost bins and raised beds! When their responsibility level directly affects the success of their garden, they will naturally want to put in more effort.
Benefit #11: Gardening Introduces Kids to the Concept of Stewardship
My main goal in gardening with my kids is to teach them the importance of stewardship. Children need to understand how our food system works and where the food in the grocery store comes from.
By growing their own food, they are able to see food production first hand. They can take stewardship a step further and use their knowledge to create a Little Free Food Pantry, a community garden, or donate produce to a food bank.
Benefit #12: Gardening is a Great STEM Activity
Garden work is excellent for STEM learning for children of all ages. Children will naturally learn science, technology, engineering, and math skills in the garden, but you can also help your child expand on this learning.
Help your child come up with a chart of his or her plants then teach him to predict the flower pattern every week. Work on basic math skills by measuring the plant’s growth together. Talk to him or her about the cause and effect of plant care as he/she waters the seeds to sprout later.
As summer wears on, the life cycle of the plant will unfold magically as he/she watches, from digging the front yard or backyard to sowing seeds to harvesting veggies and flowers. Use The Kids’ Garden Journal to record the growth and change!
Benefit #13: Gardening Gets Kids Active
Gardening with kids helps in the fight against a stationary lifestyle filled with video games and television shows. Kids in the garden enjoy more fresh air and physical activity which will keep them more active and healthy.
When they are in the garden daily, they will begin to build a pattern of healthy activity that will carry on into adolescence and adulthood!
Benefit #14: Gardening is a Stress Reliever
It is a known fact that sunlight has a positive effect on mood. The sun provides us with Vitamin D. It also triggers the release of serotonin and reduces the levels of cortisol in the brain. Kids in the garden get extra sun exposure (be sure to slather on the sunscreen), lots of fresh air, connection to nature, quiet time, and they get to create beauty with their own two little hands!
If your kids are feeling a little stressed, give them a solo task in the garden so they can relax and refocus.
Benefit #15: Gardening Helps Kids Learn to Focus
Our kids have so many things vying for their attention. Television shows and video games offer instant gratification with little intention. Regular plant care can help kids improve their focus by giving them an intentional daily routine that offers gratification, but only if they are consistent and focused on nurturing their plants.
Benefit #16: Gardening Fosters a Healthy Sense of Pride
When kids are in the garden, they are creating their own food source from scratch. They get to plant, nurture, observe, harvest, and enjoy the “veggies” of their labor.
Allowing your kids to cook with their bounty, sell some produce, or donate extras to a food bank will help to enhance your child’s sense of pride in their work.
Benefit #17: Gardening Enhances Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is an extremely important part of a child’s development. Kids in the garden build their self-confidence by learning how connected they are to the earth and by seeing the impact they can have on their own bodies, their family pantry, and their community.
Benefit #18: Gardening Improves the Immune System
One of the best benefits of gardening with kids is the way it encourages strong immune systems. Being in the garden introduces children to beneficial bacteria in the soil that can help fight illnesses and build the immune system.
The sunlight exposure in the garden gives kids a healthy daily dose of Vitamin D which, as we mentioned before, improves the mood. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of catching viruses.
Eating fresh fruits and veggies from the garden promote a healthy immune system by nourishing your body with nutritious foods.
When you see the kiddos digging the dirt and making mud pies, relax and smile… They may need a good bath, but they are building up healthy bodies!
Benefit #19: Gardening Improves Critical Thinking Skills
A study from Rutgers University shows that when kids are in the garden (particularly a school garden) they “expand their ways of thinking or habits of mind to include curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.”
Hands-on learning in the garden allows kids to come up with real time solutions to issues they might have with plant growth.
For example: If they notice insects on their plants, they need to find out if they are beneficial or harmful. If they are harmful, then the kids will determine the proper pest removal solution.
Gardening gives kids the freedom to come up with great ideas and implement them to get the results that they want to see.
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- 9 of the Best Kids Garden Tools