Gardening is a hobby that involves playing in the dirt, learning new things, and watching your hard work pay off, which makes it a great hobby for children. It combines their love for getting messy, learning from doing, and creating something. Children thrive in an environment that is new, exciting, and gratifying. Children that garden are learning lessons about the earth, plants, and the science behind watching plants grow. They are spending time outdoors, involving their peers, and making a mess. They will learn the positives behind growing your own food, helping the environment, and creating something themselves that they can be proud of. There are also many easy plants to start your children growing that are easy and gratifying to watch your kiddo learn something new and be proud of themselves.
Lessons of Gardening
Gardening is filled with lessons that your child will greatly benefit from. While teaching them about how to garden, explain how things grow, why plants are important, and why sunlight and water is important for all plants. The science behind gardening will give your children hands on experience in understanding these concepts that might be difficult for them to grasp otherwise. By being involved in the planting process they will have more interest in learning about the plants they are planting and what they do. They will learn to be responsible in watering them and how to handle them gently. They will learn that with hard work, sunshine, and water they can create little sprouts that they are responsible for creating.
Not only does gardening offer lessons about plants, but the opportunity to learn about insects is also abundant. Digging through dirt will create a ton of opportunity to find worms, beetles, centipedes, and many other ground dwelling insects. Planting flowers, fruits, or veggies allows children to learn about the important roles that bees have in pollination, the anatomy of a flower, and the types of bugs that rely on each plant. Combine your gardening lesson with a project on creating a bug farm using a jar, dirt, and a bug they’d like to learn more about.
Fun in the Sun
Introducing gardening to children is a great way to show them a hobby that they can enjoy while being outside. Unlike many other creative projects that involve staying inside, gardening gets your kiddos outside, playing in the dirt, and experiencing something that will benefit them later in life. They will understand how to use gardening tools in a safe way and learn that playing in the dirt is a fun thing to do while helping their plants grow. In a school setting, children that have a joint garden that they all share responsibility in allows them to work together and watch their teamwork pay off with each new sprout they create.
Encourage your children to be outside with their garden by teaching them how to care for it, asking them to choose the plants for your garden, and have them actively help you care for the plants that are yours. Encourage these lessons to be outside, ask them questions, and congratulate them for the plants that they succeed in taking care of.
With the internet age came a lot of interests and toys that required children to stay indoors such as video games, computers, and technological toys. These toys have important properties for children as well, but developing an interest that requires outdoor activity will help instill a love for the outdoors that will be essential later in life. Gardening isn’t an easy task and requires a lot of energy from your kiddo as well. Gardening requires stamina, patience, and knowledge from your child that will not only grow with time but will be a hobby that is useful and helps the environment.
Learning how to grow your own plants is a skill that, in itself, relates a healthy lifestyle to your child’s food choices. Being interested in growing plants that you can eat will create an interest in gardening for your kitchen as well and, really, any interest in eating veggies is not an easy feat for many children. Once kids see the plants they created themselves they are much more inclined to enjoy seeing them on their plate.
Introducing gardening to children isn’t always the easiest task and many plants require specific sunlight, water, and care from the gardener. In order to teach your children how to garden, choose simple plants to begin with that they can learn on while still feeling the gratification of seeing those little green sprouts and not the disappointment of empty soil. Some great starter plants are:
- Sunflowers: Make sure to use an outdoor garden for sunflowers and only plant one or two seeds as they take up a lot of room. They tend to sprout in one week and will supply your kiddo with sunflower seeds to eat as a snack.
- Radishes: Radishes offer fast results which is not only great for the novice gardener but also for children that enjoy seeing quick results in order to stay interested in their new hobby.
- Pumpkins: Pumpkins require a lot of room as well but are also fun for kids since they associate pumpkins with carving and Halloween. They will also sprout in about one week.
- Lettuce: Lettuce is a reliable plant that your children will also recognize. Get them excited by using the lettuce they grow on their burger or in a salad.
- Snow Peas: Snow peas are also fast growing and okay for your children to eat right off the vine if they want. They take about 10 days to germinate and are mature in about 60 days.
The important thing to remember with children and first-time gardeners is to pick plants that are easy to grow, easy to teach, and have some sort of value to them. Whether it’s planting something edible or something pretty, have them pick from a list of easy to grow plants in order to keep their interest. For indoor gardening, choose an easy herb that doesn’t require a ton of sunlight, or a flower that you can keep indoors. Remember that you can help them with the upkeep, but it’s important that they claim the plant as theirs in order to feel gratified with its progress and their hard work.
Despite the hard work that gardening can be sometimes, it is a great activity to teach to your children. Children are notoriously great at learning by doing and gardening is a great example of that learning strategy for them. Learning about plants, insects, and the environment can be a complicated and uninteresting topic for children, but teaching them to garden is a great way to get them interested in the topic while creating something fun and getting a little dirty.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys spending time in her garden, reading with a glass of wine, and throwing a Frisbee for her dog, Titan. Follow her on Twitter!