Dirt is good for kids especially if it is responsible dirt. You can teach your children how to nurture and the value of hard work through gardening. There are many benefits of doing so.
Benefits of gardening
A backyard vegetable garden makes it easy to incorporate fresh vegetables into healthy meals and snacks, says Neier, who identified still more benefits from gardening as a family:
Planting seeds and watching them grow helps children learn about the growth process, the environment and the food they eat.
Weeding and watering a garden encourages physical activity and teaches responsibility.
Working side by side allows family members, including parents and grandparents, to develop new appreciation – and respect – for each other that will strengthen their relationship in and out of the garden. “Like preparing a favorite family recipe, gardening tips often are handed down from generation to generation,” Neier adds.
You do note that kids don’t just do stuff. They have to be won over so that they can participate in the activity voluntarily. This means that as a parent you will have to come up with ways to make gardening fun for your kids.
Tips to make gardening fun for kids
- Younger students have smaller attention spans; try not to overwhelm them with too large of garden plots, or plants that need extensive maintenance, and expect to spend some of your own time with maintenance tasks that are too difficult for them to totally complete on their own (such as pruning and weeding). Younger kids will definitely enjoy digging holes, watering (it works best if you can acquire many small watering cans), harvesting, and spreading hay over the paths.
- Try to create games to make maintenance more fun, like weeding races.
- Immediate gratification definitely helps: plant seeds that germinate quickly, like beans, radishes, and sunflower seeds. But also teach the value of patience with planting some spring bulbs in the fall.
The secret is to make gardening a refreshing experience for the child. Let them feel like they are in charge. Let the child see the joy of making something from zero.
Start from Seed
With a packet of seeds, you and the kids can give birth to a whole range of interesting flowers and veggies.
Sunflowers: Your kids will be wowed by how quickly they catch up to them in height. Keep track with a measuring tape.
Beans: These fast growers can climb ladders, poles, or just about anything else in your garden. Great for picking and eating right off the vine too.
Nasturtium: Pretty and edible, flowers and all. They also attract hummingbirds to your garden, a sure delight.
Potato: These buried treasures make harvest time and digging in the dirt all the more fun.
Give Them Space
Kids may want a place to call their own. Give them a spot in the garden, or even just a container, to plant as they please. Take them to a nursery to choose plants in their favorite color or named for their favorite animal, such as elephant ear plant or bunny tail grass.
Save Seeds, Feed the Hungry
Almost as much fun as planting a seed and watching it grow is collecting seeds at the end of the season. Store them in a cool, dry place and you’ll have seeds for next year. Or save a seedhead — sunflowers are a favorite — to feed hungry birds over the winter.