Gardening with Kids

Gardens are magical, fun, and always full of surprises. Watch a child pull a carrot from the earth, brush off the soil, and take a bite, or see the anticipation in the eyes of a youngster creating a bouquet of flowers he grew. There is a natural magnetic attraction between children and the earth, whether it’s making mud or discovering a germinating seed emerges from the earth. Gardening with children, from toddlers to adolescents, opens new windows in a world dominated by technology.
Memories last longer than one season. Adults who fondly remember a childhood spent in a garden often recall a parent, grandparent, or neighbor who guided and encouraged them to explore the natural world.
Incorporate planting and play, and kids become more comfortable. We can teach even the tiniest child garden etiquette, such as where to walk. Later, they learn the consequences of good (or poor) care: watering, weeding, cultivating.
Moreover, both kids and adults learn patience in the garden. We have to wait for nature to take its course. Keep kids’ gardens simple, and a manageable size, about 6 by 10 feet.” Begin with only a few seed or plant varieties that grow quickly, and give the children tasks appropriate to their age and skill level. Watering is a favorite and even weeding can be. The pathway to better health and nutrition is right outside the door. Of course gardening offers great opportunities for exercise, fresh air, and good food. Growing their own food expands a young person’s choice of foods, a key to good nutrition. If they have grown up on home-grown and homemade food, they can taste the difference.
Gardening is a powerful experience for children. Children have fewer and fewer chances to interact with the natural world, and the connection to nature is important for their development. Children who develop regard and concern for the natural world come to be good stewards of the land and its resources. Being responsible for tending a garden also fosters their sense of “nurturing” and helps them learn to care for other living things. Kids don’t often hear much positive feedback from adults, and creating and tending a garden also empowers kids because they hear that they have “done a good job” from other adults.

Tips on Gardening with Kids:

1. Kid gardens must be kid-based. This means that kids help generate the ideas for what will be there, help with construction and planting, and are responsible for maintenance. Grown-ups need to facilitate and show how, but not do everything. Focus on the process of involving them, and they will then take ownership.
2. Develop the garden to be appropriate for the regional conditions. Develop the garden so the features and plant choices are adapted to local conditions, so you are not “working against nature.”
3. Focus on functional garden design, not how it will look. Start the design process by determining what the children want to be doing and learning in the garden. Base the features on the practical functions they will serve, and don’t worry too much about aesthetics. Gardens that serve as hands-on learning laboratories for kids will be beautiful because they are well-used and well-loved spaces. Also remember that the children’s sense of what is pretty may not be yours; that’s ok because the garden is their space.
4. Be comfortable with dirt. All kids are washable, so let them get dirty.
5. Bugs and crawly critters are cool. Children aren’t inherently afraid of things that crawl and creep. They learn that these things are bad or scary or icky from adults. When you pass on an aversion to something because of how it looks, that’s called “prejudice.” Worms, caterpillars, grubs, insects, spiders and all sorts of wondrous creatures are out in your garden as part of the ecosystem. Please see them as integral parts of the system, and the kids will be amazed and curious, not afraid.
6. No chemicals. Given that you are gardening with children, this really should not need any explanation. Also in urban areas, it is advisable to have a basic soil assessment for lead and other urban contaminants to make sure your site is safe for children before the garden is developed.
7. Grow some things to eat. Children are much more willing to try and consume fresh fruits and vegetables that they have grown. In fact, they likely will try things they never have eaten before because they have tended the plants through harvest.
8. Keep it fun.

Be Sociable, Share!

Speak Your Mind

*