Being outside in the fresh air has wonderful health benefits and planting flowers can be therapeutic. Did you know that gardening has developmental benefits for kids? It is important for children to connect with nature. Technology dominates our world, so children have fewer and fewer chances to interact with nature. Children learn to nurture and care for other living things when they are responsible for tending a garden.
- Avoid toxic chemicals and label all sprays. Store out of reach of children.
- Provide child-sized tools.
- Have appropriate clothing and wear gloves when using potting mix.
- Keep water buckets empty and do not leave water where it can build up; children can use spray bottles.
- Talk about safety of living things - what is safe to touch and not to touch.
- Always assess risks and fence off garden areas if needed.
- Thoroughly wash hands after gardening.
Benefits of Gardening
There are many different experiences that children learn while gardening:
- Gardening encourages healthy eating. Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Gardening engages all their senses and children work best when this is happening. Children can touch and feel the dirt, seeds and different plants. They can see all the colors and changes occurring and hear the sounds while planting. They can experience all the smells of the different plants and flowers.
- Gardening helps with fine motor development. Scooping the dirt and pouring water helps with fine motor and strength.
- Planting opens up the world of science concepts. Children are curious of what happens next once they plant the seeds; they make their own hypothesis and learn basic steps of the scientific process. It helps with classification, weather, insects, soil and plant cycles.
- Children bond with their families while gardening and working together to plant the garden.
- Responsibility is another benefit. Children will learn how to take care of gardens and see the consequences if they do not take care of it.
- Children understand the importance of taking care of the environment. They learn to take care of the earth if they want their garden to thrive.
- Adults can embed math skills in many gardening moments. They can measure plants, measure distances between seeds while planting, count petals on flowers, identify shapes – the ideas are never ending.
- Gardening helps children develop patience. They learn that they have to wait for the plants to grow.
- Kids learn to plan and organize. Let the children be involved and they will learn.
Gardening Tips with Children
Gardening is a wonderful experience for children. Taking care of a garden will help their sense of nurturing and help them learn to take care of other living things:
- Gardens must be kid-based. Allow children to help plan their garden, help plant it and be responsible for maintenance.
- Show children the importance of light, soil, drainage and other factors in gardening.
- Offer suggestions for them to design the garden.
- Let them get dirty; that is part of gardening.
- Let them experience bugs and critters; help them see them as integral parts of the gardening system.
- Do not use chemicals.
- Grow some things children can eat.
- Ask questions to help their thinking process. Encourage them to scrapbook or keep journals.
- Keep it fun.
Introduce children to gardening so they learn respect for the environment and help them learn about natural materials and their own health. This is the best way to learn about life on earth.
Learning Naturally – Gardening with Children