Who says gardening is just for grown-ups? Kids enjoy playing in the dirt and can reap just as many benefits as adults do from gardening. Teachers are using school gardens to spark curiosity about many subjects like science, the environment, nutrition and even math.
Gardening is a learning experience in all kinds of ways. It’s an opportunity to get kids interested in how what they eat affects their growth and health. They’ll enjoy eating what they’ve grown and have a better understanding of how the environment affects our food.
Gardening has physical and mental benefits. Working the soil, planting, weeding, watering and harvesting use large and small muscles. Studies have shown that children who help in a garden have improved moods and decreased anxiety.
Kids get outside in the sunshine and away from technology while they garden. It also fosters a special relationship between adult and child. Adults who have fond memories of a gardening in childhood often recall a parent, grandparent or neighbor who worked with them in the garden.
Here are some ideas to help get your child interested:
- Give them an area of their own where they can choose what is grown and experiment. You can use a small part of an already established garden, or a container or two, or prop a trellis against a wall.
- Plant crops that grow quickly or have strong smells or bright colors. Large seeds are easier for small fingers to hold. Snack foods can be picked and eaten on the spot.
- Be creative. Grow a theme garden, like ingredients for pizza or salad. Maybe flowers or herbs would appeal to your child more than vegetables.
These books and DVDs can help you get started:
Photos courtesy of Carrie Cummings