With school out for summer, kids have an abundance of time on their hands, and one good way to kill some of that time is with gardening. From their early years of picking flowers and watching butterflies, to older kids gathering the crops their vegetable gardens grow, any age child can learn and enjoy the garden. The most important thing to remember when it comes to gardening with children is creating an interest and encouraging their discoveries.
An important thing to remember when gardening with kids, is not to overwhelm them. Gardening can seem daunting for adults, let alone a preschooler, so it’s important to gage the activities for their age. For younger kids, simply exploring the garden can be the best way to introduce them to the idea of gardening. Looking at the bugs, smelling flowers and looking at the blooms can be awe-inspiring.
As they grow a little older, give children a little more responsibility by having them take care of the plants. Watering the plants, making plant labels, weeding and helping harvest the crops are great ways for elementary school children to enjoy the time in the garden. As kids grow even older, give them larger jobs like planting, moving rocks, or building a fence to keep the rabbits out of your garden.
As children age, their roles in the garden change, just as they change depending on what time of year it is. In the winter months, forcing paperwhites and amaryllis can keep their interest in plants and growing things, while the spring is a great time to watch seeds grow. Summer time is all about taking care of plants in the garden and fall is for harvesting your crops and cleaning up the yard to prepare for winter.
So why get your kids into gardening? The most obvious reason is that gardening gets kids outside & in touch with nature. Turning off the video games and movies, and getting out into the fresh air. Gardening is also a great form of exercise for kids. Another benefit of gardening with your kids is it may get them to eat their vegetables. Knowing they grew what is on the table keeps the adventure of gardening going. Some of the best vegetables to grow with kids include snap peas cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, cucumbers and potatoes. Finally, gardening helps prepare kids for life. Putting in the hard work and seeing how it pays off in the end will show them that hard work gets results.
So no matter how old your children are, or what time of year it is, gardening can be a great experience for kids to learn and an amazing way to bond as a family.