Most of us were introduced to gardening through punishment in school or at home when you had to trim the hedges or pull the weeds for one misdeed or another.
That however need not be the case for children as they can get physical activity and learn the responsibility of caring for another living thing through gardening if it is done right.
The trick to making gardening interesting is to make it fun so that it does not feel like a chore but playtime. When gardening is not a tedious and boring activity for the children, it can be an opportune time for you to teach them about living things, to be responsible and how to care for the environment.
Because children love nothing more than getting down and dirty getting this out of the system while gardening can make them learn about having fun the right way.
Age appropriate activities
Get children the right activities that will keep them engaged. For example, if they are toddlers, watering plants may be such an interesting activity since it is even easier.
With a watering can and guided on how it is done, it becomes easy for children to learn about the plant biology, for instance, why watering plants is vital.
But one can even go as far as allotting space in the garden to the child and thus it would totally be under their care.
It is not easy to get children to eat vegetables but seeing the carrot appear from the ground is like a magic trick to them which will bring them so much joy.
You can either dig up a part of your garden or find some old pots, containers, almost anything to plant some herbs and vegetables.
If you are using pots, you can paint and decorate them which is a way of incorporating an art element. There are colourful tools just for children which they can easily grasp and handle by themselves, helping them improve their motor skills.
Having a pot in your child’s favourite colour, complete with their name, gives a sense of ownership for the child and also increases the urge for the child to care for the plant it holds. Painting and labelling of the pots can be part of the gardening experience, incorporating art into the process.
The trick is to set them up for success and this can easily be done by giving them their own garden sections in the middle of the action where the there is nothing but good soil and enough light. Because plants can be tricky you are allowed to ‘cheat’ a little depending on the age of the child. You do not have to let them know about all the help your offering by watering in the evening while they took their nap because you want them to claim ownership of their garden.
Pick the right type of plants
Children have little patience and the trick is to plant something that is easy to grow, has short growing season and also plants that are fun to harvest such as the sunflower. It will sprout in one week, become a small seedling in two weeks, and should be two inches tall in a month.
The idea that you can eat what you plant is a good lesson for the children and so cherry tomatoes is such a fun crop to plant with them. You can plant in full sun and use seedlings rather than planting from seed. Put in a two-inch stake alongside each seedling, they need to be tied loosely to stakes as they get taller. Add lots of compost and remember to water at ground level while trying to keep leaves dry.
Growing season is 50 to75 days and the cherry tomatoes can also be grown in containers so space should not be an issue.
Gardening is an experience for life and one of the lessons it teaches children is that there is a season for everything and that it all cycles again. Learning this can be highly beneficial, especially for children prone to spending a lot of time indoors and in cars going to other indoor places
Gardening is said to help children improve their planning and organisation skills. With their small gardens, parents should take pride in what the children do. It is also important for their well-being and technology has made it possible to share pictures acknowledging their achievements to family and friends especially. So take as many pictures to remember the experience by while you brag about what a nice job they have done especially to those they hold in high esteem.