No child is too young to play in the garden. Not only will early exploration of the garden instill an interest in the growing world, help build stronger bodies and minds, but it could also lead to some yummy meals of roasted carrots and strawberry shortcake in years to come. So, how do you cultivate your child’s inner gardener to grow? It’s easy! You only need to provide some garden soil, seeds, words on plant care, and lots of encouragement, smiles, and fun.
How to grow your child’s interest in gardening:
Learning by example
Above all else, if children see you in the garden, they will feel comfortable exploring there as well. If you can show them your excitement, then they’ll get excited too. Kids learn by watching what you do and how you act. So, let them see your curiosity and learn from your efforts. Let them see your joy at opening flowers and ripe tomatoes. If you happen to be a little squeamish when it comes to creepy crawlies, then wear gloves and try not to over-react. They’ll notice if you are scared of spiders or toads. While it is reasonable to have a healthy respect for the dangers some garden creatures pose, you must remember to demonstrate a reasonable reaction when these creatures are encountered.
Give them space to grow
This one can be hard for some parents. In order for kids to get excited about gardening, you actually have to give them some garden space. You could allow them a quarter of your garden, their own plot, or a few patio planters to experiment with. The important thing here is for you to let go of your control and accept that their garden space will be their own. Gardening with kids means it may be messy and muddy and unorganized. But it is from this garden space that they will start feeling comfortable with the dirt and the plants which will eventually grow there.
Provide some tools
Go ahead and give your children gardening tools or show them which tools of yours they can use. I don’t see the point in ‘toy’ gardening tools. As long as you demonstrate safe and responsible use and the tools are of a manageable size, there is no reason kids can’t use metal gardening trowels, rakes, and pails. Yet, I do see the pleasure in brightly coloured shovels and watering cans; so if you want to indulge, go ahead. (I have discovered that the Melissa and Doug line has some very cute gardening accessories for kids.)
Give them control
Allow your child the choice of seeds or let them choose a few plants at the greenhouse. They’ll take much more responsibility if they were given autonomy in the designing department. However, it is reasonable to provide teaching and direction around growing conditions and suitable plant choices. Narrowing down their options to plants that grow well in your climate is reasonable.
Make gardening with kids fun
Try expanding kid’s gardening adventures by encouraging them to choose easy and fun plants. You could try some towering sunflowers, fragrant herbs, and tasty snap peas. Help them experience the varied rewards gardening can give. You can also suggest fun crafts and ways to liven up their garden space. A quick search on Pinterest should give you lots of birdhouse, plant stakes, decorated pots, and fairy garden ideas.
Praise and eat their efforts
When you notice them working in their garden, do make mention of it. Invite them to garden when you are working in the yard. And if any vegetables grow to harvesting stage you will want to share them at the family dinner table giving full credit to the little gardener who grew the food.
Our children have a separate gardening area and over the years have had many learning adventures such as weed invasions, drought, and bug attacks. They’ve also had many successes such as prolific flowers, sweet carrots, giant sunflowers, and an abundance of potatoes. However, the biggest success, in my opinion, is that come springtime, the kids are eager to get digging in their garden. And come fall, they are eager to share and eat their efforts. I can say that our children are definitely excited about gardening. I can only hope that their interest in tending plants grows along with them.
So, how will you spread the joy of gardening to your little ones?
Here are some adorable kid’s gardening watering cans
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