Getting your kids involved in gardening can be a challenge, but the benefits far outweigh the minor hiccups in the process of getting started. Gardening can help your children develop both in body and in mind, setting them up for a lifetime of rewarding experiences.
Here are some ways to sprout their interest.
1. Give them their own jobs
The easiest way to get your child involved in gardening (and to keep yourself sane) is to provide them with a specific job. Without a purposeful task to complete, your little one will likely become bored (and probably look for ways to get into trouble). Start small, and remember to vary the difficulty of the task depending on your son or daughter’s age. Have them kill potato bugs, spread mulch, weed, or even plant seeds. By teaching quick, easy tasks and then allowing them to work independently, you will provide them with new, enjoyable experiences to keep them busy for hours. This can also serve to check things off your gardening to-do list.
2. Teach them
Gardening is a great way to teach kids about the circle of life. You can teach your kids how to identify certain plants, natural remedies, and about the critters that often invade a garden. Just remember to keep the experience positive, so your child will always approach gardening experiences with an open mind.
To get started, take a field trip! Bring your kids to local botanical gardens, where they can learn about native plants and flowers so they can see what the end-product of their hard work in the garden plot might look like. Treat every opportunity in the garden as a learning experience, and you will be setting your kids up for a lifetime of rewarding opportunities.
3. Encourage autonomy
Whenever possible, let your kids make the garden their own. For example, set aside a bit of your garden space so that your kids can plant whatever they want. Let them select the seeds, and give them their own, kid-sized tools (like small gloves and tiny hand trowels) to use. You can even get them involved in the gardening process during the winter months by encouraging them to flip through the seed catalog with you or building the compost pile.
4. Involve them in the harvest
The gardening fun doesn’t have to end after the first frost. Involve your kids in the harvest by asking them how they would like to enjoy it. While you might find that they gravitate towards the favorites more often than not (pizza, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob, anyone?) you might be pleasantly surprised to hear them come up with unique, fresh, and healthy ways to put the harvest to good use and actually eat their vegetables.
By: Rebekah Pierce
Rebekah Pierce is a freelance writer from upstate New York. She specializes in articles related to gardening, outdoor living, and education.