Gardening with young children: Here’s to a fun and active family affair!

As we head into spring, there is no better time to explore gardening with children. From digging soil, planting seeds, smelling flowers, hearing birds chirping, or tasting the harvest, gardening is an activity suitable for everyone in family. People of different ages and abilities can participate in it, alone or in a group.

Benefits of gardening

Gardening can have many health benefits. It engages the five senses and connects children to nature.  Gardening involves using variety of muscles for a variety of activities and can contribute to better physical health. Bending, digging, lifting, and raking leaves can improve gross motor skills; seeding, weeding and picking fruits can sharpen children’s fine motor skills.

In emotional health, gardening can reduce stress and improve one’s moods.  Simple activities, such as smelling the fresh flowers or watering the plants, can help young gardeners to take the time to slow down, meditate or just enjoy the moment.

Gardening introduces children to scientific concepts, such as plant’s life cycles or photosynthesis, and math concepts such as counting, measuring and grafting. In addition, young gardeners can sharpen their planning, organization, observation, and problem-solving skills. Through growing and caring for plants, they learn about essential life skills, such as responsibility, patience and perseverance.

Most importantly, gardening can lead to tangible rewards of growing and harvesting one’s own food. In addition to teaching young gardeners about where their food comes from, it also encourages them to take responsibility and to care for their own health and their environment.

Getting started

To start, get some basic gardening tools such as child size gloves and other gardening tools, seeds/seedlings, pots and soil.  Select plants that are suitable and will peak children’s interest such as a wide array of colours of flowers or vegetables and fruits that children love.

If you are new to gardening, make sure to do some research so the garden will have beautiful blooms and healthy plants. Check out gardening books from local libraries or online resources for more tips. Do not forget the local garden center and their expert staff who are happy to help you with your gardening project.

Assess the area suitable for your gardening project, be it the community garden, apartment balcony, backyard, or even your windowsill. Research sun exposure, soil type, climate and the type of plants to see what can grow best in your garden.

Keep safety in mind by ensuring children are aware of garden safety guidelines, including how to safely use the tools. Monitor young children when gardening and ensure proper handwashing after gardening. Learn about common poisonous plants, thorns, prickles, or spines and basic first-aid skills.

Caring and maintaining your garden

Plants are living things and so it is important to give the garden the tender love and care that they need to bloom. This requires quite a bit of work and for everyone to do their part. Set the maintenance schedule for the garden, including for planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding and pruning. Depending on the ages and abilities of children, assign different family members to different gardening chores so everyone has a role. Make gardening chores fun and engaging with family-friendly competition and games.

Make gardening a fun and active family affair and reap the benefits. Whether it is herb plants in pots on your windowsill or flowerbeds in the backyard, there is something magical about caring for plants and appreciating the beauty of nature. Start today and watch your garden and your family bloom.

Happy gardening!

The post Gardening with young children: Here’s to a fun and active family affair! first appeared on Canadian Immigrant.

Gardening with young children: Here’s to a fun and active family affair!