A garden is a wonderful thing to share with a child. One child, two, or an entire classroom, children can learn so much just from burying their hands in the soil and watching the seeds they plant grow, blossom, fruit, and hibernate. Children learn to play with nature, try things, and understand where everything living in the world comes from when they have access to a garden. But what are the real, tangible benefits of gardening with children?
From a veggie garden by the back patio to an entire yard of things to plant and nurture, gardening has some very real advantages for children, no matter what age they begin. As plant enthusiasts ourselves, we would love to share with you the many benefits of gardening with your children.
A Sensory Extravaganza
Sensory gardens are a great choice for both parents of small children and children themselves. Sensory gardens are full of colors, textures, and different smells to explore. Children can dig their hands in the soil, touch the different plants, learn different smells, and name the colors. Gardens are wonderful for sensory play and can also help toddlers develop their fine motor skills while playing with their first trowel or planting their first seeds.
Understanding Natural Food and Healthy Eating
Growing fruits and vegetables together is a great way to teach your children where natural food comes from. You can name the vegetables together and even pick out new seeds to grow each season. Eating the produce you grow, even if it’s just a little victory salad, will teach your children the importance of natural food and of understanding the ingredients in what you eat. This can also inspire conversations about healthy food in the grocery store, reading the ingredients on the packaging, and a lifelong love of fresh vegetables.
Boost Growing Immune Systems
Did you know that gardening is also good for your immune system? This is especially true for children who are still building all of their local immunities to the local microbiology. Digging one’s hands into the local soil and occasionally munching on a home-grown mint leaf can help gently expose your child to many microbiological elements of your ecosystem. This will increase their immune system’s ability to fight off anything similar that might harm them in the future. Children who play in the dirt tend to have stronger immune systems and resist illness more easily.
An Inherent Understanding of Botany
Children with pets gain an inherent understanding of biology. They can lay on their dog and hear its heart beating, or its stomach gurgle, and their growing minds put it all together. The same is true of gardening and botany. In fact, children who watch a bean sprout grow in a baggie understand plants better than those who don’t. And children who plant dozens of seeds to watch them go through an entire plant lifecycle develop an even deeper understanding. Different plants, different results, and many garden projects will leave your child understanding plant life far better than their indoor peers and can instill STEM essentials.
Gaining Confidence in a Mistake-Free Zone
If there’s one thing every child learns in the garden, it’s confidence. Gardening is an activity where you can make mistakes that are not catastrophic. If your child knocks over a potted plant and all the soil falls out, the plant isn’t dead, and the soil isn’t wasted. You can scoop it back together, and the plant will keep growing. If you put a flower in the wrong spot in the flower bed, simply scoop it out and set it in the right place. Clip the wrong branch of a flower bush? A new flower will grow there in the next flowering season.
Gardening also shows children that they can try things, get their hands dirty and their knees scuffed, and even if things go wrong, a little tenacity can usually make it right. This can provide a great source of confidence and the ability to tackle hands-on problems.
Learning About Routine, Responsibility, and Patience
Gardening is also an activity that can’t be done all at once. If your children want to see the best results, they have to learn a routine and take responsibility. Watering each plant just the right amount requires attention and a schedule. Seeing plants go from seedlings to fruiting takes patience. Children who adapt to this lesson will be able to practice routine, responsibility, and patience – essential adult skills – very early in life, and in a very low-stress environment. In fact, a few brown leaves are often the only consequence of an occasional mistake.
Planning, Organizing, and Math Skills
Children who truly get involved in building a garden get involved in planning, organizing, and even applying math skills. Laying out a flower bed takes geometry and careful measurements. Growing a vegetable garden takes planning to determine exactly how many seeds to lay in each planter. You can use math to estimate the fruits and veggies you will harvest and turn them into specific recipes. Gardening is an organized hobby with a near-endless chance to use middle school-level math.
A Lifelong Love of Science
Many children who play in the garden unlock a lifelong love of science and looking really closely at things. Kids are fascinated by the patterns of leaves, the activity of earthworms, and the stages of growth in plants. Show your children how changing the soil’s nitrogen and other chemical compositions can change the color of flowers. Encourage them to pick apart a seed or flower to see how it works inside. Some kids will delight in a magnifying glass or their first microscope to look even more closely at the science in nature all around them. And if that’s not a good STEM foundation, what is?
Practicing Teamwork and Cooperation
Gardening is also a great activity to do together. Children rarely garden alone, but they love to garden together. Working outside in the garden to weed flower beds, trim bushes, and nurture seeds can help children learn how to work together. This is a very important lesson for only children and kids about to head off to school. Being able to work side-by-side, communicating and cooperating to achieve a shared task, is a skill that everyone learns eventually. Learning it next to a parent in a garden is a wonderful way to gain early teamwork and cooperation skills.
Their Daily Dose of Sunshine
Lastly, getting out into the garden can ensure your children get a healthy dose of Vitamin D. With so many indoor activities available to kids, many children experience less than their daily dose of sunshine. If you want to make sure your child gets a healthy amount of sunshine and non-fortified Vitamin D, gardening together can ensure that the whole family spends a little time in the sunshine.
Creating the Perfect Garden to Share With Your Child
Gardening with children is a rewarding activity and beneficial to children on many levels. But you don’t have to start from scratch. Quality Accents would be honored to landscape your yard in a way that is supportive of childhood gardening with accessible flower beds, planters, and child-friendly features. Contact us today to learn more.