Posted by: ad65shorty | June 3, 2009

Gardening with Kids

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I love gardening–flowers, plants, fruits, vegetables. It doesn’t matter. Love it! My dad is an amazing gardener and has learned a lot through the years. Some of my favorite childhood memories are gardening as a family on a cool Saturday morning. So, this is definitely something I wanted to pass along to my own children. I’m fortunate to have a husband who also enjoys this and enjoys learning new things and experimenting with what we’ve got. It’s always an adventure, that’s for sure! But it cultivates a lot of laughter and fun! Once again, I have no research behind this. These are simply my own ideas derived from my own experiences.

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There are many benefits to gardening with children. Here are a couple:

1. Science skills

2. Family unity

3. Pride in their own work

4. A willingness to try new things

5. Environmental awareness

6. The value of hard work and delayed gratification

Here is an article I found about the benefits of gardening with your kids. It’s pretty good! http://ezinearticles.com/?Benefits-of-Gardening-With-Kids-Equals-Fit-Kids-Plus-Better-Grades&id=1869372

“But, Angee,” you say. “I know there are benefits, but gardening with a toddler is just a PAIN! It’s just too messy and too much work! And they always destroy what I’ve done.” And I say, “Yes, but it is also very possible to make everybody happy.”

So, here are some hints that you could try:

1. Let them have their own space.  When we were young, my parents had this huge garden area in our backyard (now how huge it really was, I’m not sure, but it seemed huge to a young child). They didn’t want their fruits and vegetables destroyed so they gave us our own portion of the garden. We could do what we wanted there. We dug and water and buried and destroyed. But it was all ours, and we couldn’t have enjoyed it more! If this is a possibility in your area, it might be fun to let your children choose flowers or seeds to plant and let them care for them on their own, in their own way. If not, the benefits of just having a dirt pile are huge!

2. Teach them. If you don’t have the space (which we don’t), you both have to work in the same area. We have had to teach our children our “rules of the garden.” They know where to step and what to avoid. They know they can only go in the garden with our permission. They know there is no digging. They know there is no watering without Mom or Dad. You get the idea. Teach them what your rules are.

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3.  Let them help. We moved into our home in the fall so we didn’t do any planting that first year so our first spring was spent creating our flower gardens. We had to create them from the ground up, which was a big project. Our children, then 9 months and 3, wanted to help, of course! So, my husband and I had to be creative in finding things would keep them busy so they weren’t in the way. The first job for our 3-year-old was to spread the dirt. That’s it. He spent awhile doing that with his shovel from his sandbox. My 9-month-old spent the time playing in it. That gave us the chance to get things prepped. Then, we dug holes (which your children could EASILY help with). My son’s job was to put one flower into each hole. While my husband was planting our rose bushes, we had my son take the leftover flowers to our other flower bed to keep him out of the way. It was the cutest thing to see him brainstorm this. He began by taking them one-by-one, but soon realized that was going to take forever so he tried carrying them in a bucket. That became too awkward, I believe. The next thing we knew, he was placing them into the back of his bike and RIDING them over! Think of all the skills he learned!

transporting the flowers

transporting the flowers

My children also enjoy helping us plant the seeds in our vegetable garden. Easy enough. My husband digs the row, I pour some seeds into my hand, and then we have the kids place the seeds in the row.

We also let our children help us weed. This one takes a lot of teaching, at first. You have to teach them which ones are weeds and which ones are not. At first, it’s easiest to say, “Pull this one.” But, with time, they will begin to recognize the difference. And, if there’s ever a question, have them ask before they do it.

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4. Get them their own gardening tools. It’s nice for the kids to have child-size, safe items that make them feel big. You can buy these at gardening stores, but Walmart and Target also sell them. We were also able to find our kids some child-size “work” gloves.

5. Let them choose. Let your children have a say in what is getting planted, even if it’s just a small say. My son chose to plant broccoli this year so we’re trying it. Nothing I would have picked, but let’s do it. He loves going out every day so see how much it’s grown. Your children could also pick out some flowers. If you’re concerned about how your flower bed is going to look, give them a choice between two that you like. They feel so empowered!

I love the sense of pride my children have developed through gardening. We have a vegetable garden, and my kids are willing to eat ANYTHING out of that garden because they have helped plant and cultivate it. My son even eats the green onion! My kids love to go out and pick some strawberries for dinner or pull up a couple of carrots, if I need them. I love the quality time it gives us each week, as we go out and weed and prune and water. Gardening with kids is the best!

What do you do in your homes to let your children help in gardening?

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Responses

  1. HI! Love the post and really love the photos.

    Kids can learn SO MUCH from gardening. Even “just the food” part is valuable, but it can mean so much more. Respecting, and being connected to the EARTH is very important and what better way than gardening?

    Erika sent us a great story about teaching her children to value LEARNING through gardening. Great video, check it out here:
    ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/2265

    Cheers.
    -Mike
    mike@ahamoment.com


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