Involving kids with gardening can be a great, fun experience for everyone regardless of their age. Children can really get engrossed in planting and caring for flowers – even those with shorter attention spans!
Most kids can’t get enough of the anticipation and excitement of waiting for the seed to sprout and for the plant to grow, and it’s also a great way for them to learn about the process of growing plants and photosynthesis. It’s a lot easier to learn by doing after all.
Gardening has plenty of other benefits too. For one, it’s an outdoor activity, meaning it’ll peel them away from the TV, and it’s also a team effort that everyone can enjoy contributing to. Parenting experts all say that in order to have a strong bond with your children, you need spend time on an activity that is enjoyable for both adults and children.
Gardening can allow time to really talk about things, regardless of how important or trivial. More importantly, it allows you both to have fun!
Gardening doesn’t require a huge garden or allotment contrary to what some people might think. In fact, it can actually be beneficial to start out with smaller spaces such as window boxes and restricted areas. It needn’t cost a lot of money either – you don’t need to buy anything special or fancy, and if you grow your own fruit and veg then you’ll ultimately be making a large saving!
Here’s some tips on gardening with the kids:
Gardening for Kids
There’s a great deal there for children to learn when it comes to gardening. See if they can tell you the process behind plant growth, whilst making sure that they know to water the garden regularly and observe the growth.
– Involve them by regularly asking them questions: where is best to plant these? What seed will grow here? What should we do next? What does it say in the instructions? The key is to make them feel involved and feel valued.
– Explain to your children that plants need time to grow and will require lots of sunlight and water. Try conducting an experiment to really show them how this works – grow three separate pots of cress. Place one in sunlight with plenty of water, one in a dark cupboard with plenty of water, and one in sunlight with no water. Have the kids keep an eye on all three to compare how each pot grows.
– Photograph each stage of the plant’s growth. This will help you and the children effectively document all of your hard work!
– Explain to younger children that the seeds have popped underground and have been covered up to sleep, helping them understand that they need to be gentle with them and treat them with care.
– Children will have a particular fondness for plants which stimulate the senses; plants with soft leaves and bright flowers, aromatic herbs, scented flowers, grasses and leaves that rustle when blown, etc. These can be particularly beneficial for children with special needs and requirements, as they will be encouraged to enjoy the garden and its surroundings.
– Plants that attract wildlife can be very exciting! Wildflowers are a sure-fire way to attract bees and butterflies, which can help the rest of the crop of fruit/vegetables.
– Involve the children with the composting process. Keep a small box next to the kitchen sink in which to dispose of kitchen waste. Make a chart that lists what you can compost and what you can’t so that the kids know what exactly to put in the box. This will also prepare them for recycling later in life.
– Educate them on the insects you find in the garden and their benefits/disadvantages. For example, hedgehogs and toads are good as they will eat slugs and snails, as are worms as they create holes in the soil. Let them know of the ways we can control pests in a responsible manner through our responsible management of garden pests guide!
– Have the kids get creative and make plant labels to mark the spots where seeds have been planted.
Start small. Try not to be overly ambitious and start with a small, manageable project for you and your children. A good starting point is sunflowers or potatoes in a bucket. Cress egg heads are also a good start, as it grows quickly and can often be eaten in salads after just a few days.
Wear old clothes. Most children love making a mess, so it might be wise to keep some old clothes at hand.
Choose carefully. Plants that require constant maintenance are not a wise idea. If they shrivel and die after a couple of days then this might demotivate the kids.
Allow independence. You can give the kids their own small section in the garden where they can keep their own pots without ruining the flowerbeds. Just ensure that their allocated areas get enough sunlight – if they don’t, then nothing will grow and they may become disinterested in gardening. Younger children might want to name their plants in order to form more of a bond and become more involved.
Remember – you don’t need to take a trip to the nearest garden centre straight away. Tools and seed trays are hardly crucial until later, so for now, try starting with margarine tubs, yoghurt pots, and any other small containers you might find lying around the house.
A lollypop stick can make a great plant label and can be used when dipping out seedlings. Instead of fancy trays with separate sections, you’ll find just as much use in empty egg cartons.
For help with watering smaller plants, consider buying a water gun so that the children provide enough water without drowning them with watering cans. This way, even the younger children can get involved. And let’s face it – what child doesn’t love a water fight?
And some more..
If you’re not a fan of gardening but your children have shown a keen interest, then enlist support from other family members and friends. For example, lots of grandparents enjoy being in the garden and it can be a nice bonding activity between them and their grandchildren.
– Buy your children their own miniature set of gardening tools and watering can so they can copy you and pick up the basics.
– Prepare for mess! The gardening process will allow them freedom to really get their hands dirty – but at least it’s safely contained outside of the house!
– Prepare for sunny weather by supplying sun cream and hats. Even if it’s not sunny, small children will require skin protection, particularly in the middle of the day.