Many adults already appreciate the advantages of gardening. The health benefits brought through the combination of fresh, outdoor air and physical exertion, the pleasurable aesthetics of seeing your garden blossom and the culinary bonus of eating your very own home-grown produce makes gardening the ideal hobby.
Gardening isn’t just for grown-ups, however. Children normally don’t need an excuse to get their hands in the soil so help them catch the gardening bug early with these fabulous tips:
Get kitted out
You don’t need to spend an awful lot on children’s gardening equipment but very small hands will find child-sized tools easier and more manageable to handle than full-scale versions. A small trowel is just about enough to get them started.
Try as you might, gardening with kids is never going to be tidy! Be prepared for some mess – soil will be flicked around, water will be spilt and seeds will be dropped. It’s all part of the fun!
Grow plants with a purpose
Growing plants that can be eaten or used makes this fun hobby even better! Children will be so proud to be able to eat the foods or use the plants they have grown from seed themselves. Dried lavender is great for creating scented draw pouches with and there is nothing quite like shelling a pea straight from the pod!
Choose some fast growing plants
Once they begin kids will normally be impatient to see the results of their hard work. Radishes, baby lettuce leaves and herbs are all fast growing plants that produce results quickly.
Very young children might find it difficult to tell the difference between what they should and should not eat. Make sure that any plants you grow that they have access to is safe if eaten.
Grow the things they will eat – and the ones they won’t!
If your child loves peas but hates carrots encourage them to grow the carrots themselves. You’ll be amazed at what they are prepared to try if they’ve had a hand in producing it themselves.
Combine fun with learning
Gardening with children provides a terrific opportunity to combine it with many lessons. Through it they’ll learn science when they realise that plants need certain conditions to grow, maths through counting the seeds they have planted and measuring their growth, and writing and spelling when they write out their own plant labels.
There’s nothing like getting close-up to the soil to really discover nature. Children will love finding out how the earthworms help gardeners by turning the soil and how ladybirds help to keep the bad pests at bay. You can help to encourage their new love for nature even further by building a ladybird house together or by watching how worms work in a wormery.
Give them their own responsibility
Whether it’s their very own patch of garden, a few containers of their own or a specific job such as weeding or watering, giving a child their own responsibility to take care of will encourage their self-esteem and their work ethic too. Explain exactly what they need to do and why, and talk them through how they should do it. Let them know that even though they are responsible, you are available to help them if they need it.
Whatever you do and however you do it, enjoy the time you spend in the garden together and break a few ‘rules’ if you have to. Plant an unknown seed to see what grows and don’t worry too much if they get a little overenthusiastic and dig up seedlings before they’ve had a chance to mature. Keep it light, keep it fun and they will have garden memories they will cherish forever!
by Tania from largerfamilylife.com
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