Gardening, for kids, is a perfect hands-on learning opportunity. After all, kids love dirt. They love to squish their toes in it, sift it through their little fingers, make mud pies, and play in it! Turning that love of digging in the dirt is an opportunity for you, the parent, to sneak in a little bit of teaching!
Gardening helps kids with fine motor skills, large motor skills, and critical thinking. However, it also gives them a feeling of pride and success. Also, it gives them responsibility for taking care of these little, growing plants.
Believe me, I know that you want your garden to look pretty and you worry that your little ones help will probably not be to that higher standard. I would challenge you to just give it a try. With your guidance, your child can get hands-on with you and learn a great skill. The results just might surprise you!
The key to success is to focus on assigning them the tasks that they can do rather than telling them what they can’t do.
Here are a few tips for engaging your children in the garden.
Let your child have his or her own tools.
First, they are safer than yours. They will get the job done, but there are no sharp edges.
Second, it makes your child responsible for her own set of tools. Teach this at an early age. It will set your kiddo up for success later. Development of good habits will remain with him for life.
Let them get dirty! It’s okay! I promise, they wash up just fine. Kids love to feel interesting textures. This encourages imagination and curiosity about their surroundings.
Jobs like raking will develop large motor skills. Let them help you rake the soil level before you plant. Even if they make a mistake, it’s not going to damage the garden. Your kids will love helping you and feel empowered by doing such an important job!
Let them learn to harvest root vegetables. Root vegetables don’t require shears to harvest, so they are very safe. Carrots, beets, and radishes are perfectly easy to pull out of the soil. Also, your child can damage a plant, such as a cucumber plant, by accidentally pulling up the whole thing. Therefore, root vegetables are perfect for developing fine motor skills.
Use the opportunity to teach very young children about colors and why it’s healthful to fill their plate with all different veggies.
Let the kids water the garden. Kids love to put water and dirt together to make mud. They are fascinated by it. When they get big enough to help you with this, it actually can become a chore that they enjoy.
Take the opportunity to teach kids basic science principles. Or, never mind, just let them play with the water hose!
Let your kids have their own container garden to decorate. This way, you can put all your pretty finishing touches on your garden while they have their own “gardening project.” Let them use rocks, pebbles, small plants, flowers, and small toys. The opportunity for creative expression may very well surprise.
Remember, gardening with kids can be a lot of fun. Focus on staying positive. Give them small, manageable tasks that they are able to accomplish. Don’t worry about perfection. Most of all, have fun and treasure these precious moments in time.