How to Get a Child Interested in Gardening
Gardening for Children
Getting a child interested in the gardening can be very useful for their learning experience about the nature, botanical science and the environment. They learn about the growth process, responsibilities, and the satisfaction of success after seeing the fruit of their hard labour As according to Deb Matthews Hensley, an early childhood consultant, "As children observe, reflect, record, and share nature's patterns and rhythms, they are participating in a process that promotes scientific and ecological awareness, problem solving, and creativity"
Children can learn various tasks in the garden that involves watering the plants, plucking weeds, harvesting, filling the pots with mud, digging, sowing seeds, planting, picking leaves from the garden. With plucking weeds, they will learn about competition here. Involve your kid in removing weeds when they are still small. They will love to pluck them away. Finally, let your child pick the harvested result. Let them carry their own basket and collect the harvested plant in it as it definitely adds more interest to the work.
Fortunately, children of any age other than babies can easily participate in gardening process, except that younger ones need constant supervision and guidance whereas older children can do various activities, such as pruning and mulching, without much direction.
Benefits of involving children in gardening
Involving kids in gardening has various benefits:
1. It will keep your child away from staying indoors doing passive activities, such as playing computer games, which have become major concern for parents recently. A child interested in gardening will remain outdoors in natural environment, will get fresh oxygen/air, will get natural sun and a child's eyes will remain healthy from seeing natural green plants.
2. The main aid is that they will eat them if they grow them. My son eats all the vegetables and fruits we have grown without me struggling for him to eat them. That is a big bonus in my view!
3. They will embrace a more active lifestyle and will learn about health and nutrition from the early age which will help them remain healthy in their whole life. Some researches have shown that children who spend more time outdoors have decreased chance of developing various developmental health issues such as ADHD.
4. They will learn to practice patience as they will wait for their plants to give the fruits and vegetables that they have planted.
5. Congratulation! You have helped your child to chose the best outdoor hobby for lifelong!
- Never leave small children alone in the garden when they are doing tasks such as filling pot with mud or digging as mud might get into the eyes.
- Only plant safe, non-poisonous plants.
- Avoid using chemicals in the garden as kids can touch those plants and soil and are very prone to put the hands or fingers into the mouth. Even smaller dose of harsh chemicals can damage the underdeveloped system of a child.
- Avoid keeping any sharp pointy tools in the garden, you never know when and how the accidents happen and you might have to run to the emergency with your child and all the fun of gardening will be lost!
- Avoid scolding or screaming at them while they do mistakes as that will rather keep them away from the garden, rather involve them in easy tasks when they around and do others when they are not in the garden.
- Avoid installing the fear of insects and little bugs to them, because this insects belong to the part of their learning about nature, rather keep your child covered with boots and gloves and fully covered cloths so that they won't be mistakenly bitten by insects. Also keep your garden tidy by removing all the unwanted and tall grasses and weeds because that is where usually little insects dwell.
Develop the interest in gardening:
Keeping it simple is the key. Start by involving a child to grow simple and easy to sow and grow plants, the ones that do not need unusual extra care. Involve them in the process of planting from beginning to end, that means from preparing the soil with organic fertilizers and planting/sowing to harvesting so they can see the outcome. Remember to plant the seasonal plants for best result. Some plants such as strawberry, pumpkins, carrot, lean beans are easy to grow and and give quick and interesting result without much effort.
As written above, involving your kids in the process is the key. Explain and demonstrate what you are doing and what happens if you do things that way or the other way. Let them do it. Don't be afraid of the mistakes they will make because that is only how they will learn. Passive watching will never grow their interest in gardening. To avoid the frustration, don't allocate the tasks that they cannot do, or they have more chances of doing it wrong. If there are tasks that they cannot do and has to be done, finish it when your child is not in the garden to avoid them getting upset or loosing interest in gardening.
As they start to get interested grow more variety of plants such as beans, peas and cucumbers. Involve them in tying the trellis for the beans as they will be surprised and excited to see the beans and peas growing tall and going up on the trellis day by day.
Techniques to involve and grow interest in gardening:
If you are growing plants in the container, let them fill the container with the mud. Assist them if needed. Never leave the young children alone. Let them sow the seeds or let them plant the plants. Children can do it, my three and half can easily do it with my supervision and he enjoys it.
One of the example of how to involve your child in gardening is to plant Strawberry. If you are planning to show your child how to grow strawberry in a pot, start by allowing the child to fill the pot with mud, and then add the little plant and then fill the pot to cover the roots and then let the child water the plant. As the strawberry will ripe your child will learn about the buds, flowers of fruits, flower changing to little fruit and the ripping stage. Seeing this progress gives an immense satisfaction and happiness to the child. Strawberries take short time to fruit and ripe, it is one of the best fruit to increase a child's interest in gardening.
The other example of easy gardening that gives quick result is sowing carrot. To plant carrots a child just has to scatter the seeds in the soil and you can cover the seeds with soil (or the kid can use small spoon to make small whole where he can add the seeds and then cover it with soil using the same spoon). Then guide the child to water everyday and then the carrot will be ready in about 2 months. In between this, the kid can watch the sprouting of the seed and the growing of the leaves, that will excite them a lot. You might though have to thin the carrots if it is too thick. Your child will love to help you with plucking as well.
Use the child friendly tools to enhance their gardening interests and also to make tasks easier for them, such as to water the plants use small watering cans that your child can carry and can water the plants without killing the plants with high water pressure. You can buy little watering containers or cans for kids, easily found in supermarket as shown in picture or you can buy online. They are easy to carry water for kids.