Gardening With Kids
Most of us who enjoy gardening also enjoy sharing our gardening ideas and information with others. One of the special joys of gardening is that we can share it with our kids, our grandkids, or our neighbors' kids.
The Benefits of Gardening with Kids
Here are a few reasons why gardening with kids can be very rewarding:
1. Kids will learn to understand and respect their environment earlier in life when they experience gardening. They'll learn that rain can be good for the garden, even if it temporarily delays their opportunity to play outside.
2. Kids will learn responsibility and the consequences of good actions as they care for and nurture plants. They'll also become aware of the fact that food doesn't originate in the grocery store.
3. Gardening provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to bond with adults. As kids and adults share gardening, the kids will probably feel more accepted and gain self confidence.
4. Experiencing gardening successes and failures can also be good life lessons for younger people … good gardening practices usually result in success, but sometimes the lack of success is beyond our control. That's not a bad lesson for kids to learn early in life.
5. Gardening can help younger people to be more patient, and it can start them on a life-long journey of learning.
6. A recent study shows that gardening significantly increases the number of new fruits and vegetables children try.
How to Get Kids Involved
Here are some tips on how to get kids involved and how to increase the likelihood of a successful experience:
1. Invite the kids to join you … let them know how much you enjoy gardening and encourage them to experience the fun with you. Kids are naturally curious and eager to try new things; but, don't force them. If they're not ready to join you this year, work on sharing your joy of gardening with them. Encourage them to observe if they're not eager to participate. Maybe they'll be ready next year.
2. Be patient and flexible. What seems logical and natural to us adults is a very new experience for the kids.
3. Start small and help the kids see some early success. While kids may not like to eat radishes, they're one of the quickest vegetables that they can grow from seed. They'll quickly gain an appreciation of the miracle of seeds becoming plants. Or, try starting seeds indoors. Let them plant several tomato seeds in yogurt cups or paper cups.
4. Grow something BIG. A mammoth sunflower or two, and perhaps a pumpkin that the child can use for his or her very own Halloween decoration, will certainly get a kid's attention.
5. Let the kids decide whether they want their very own section of the garden, or whether they want to work with you in part or all of your gardens. (We recommend encouraging the kids to have a little section of their own, for which they are responsible. They can also help you with your larger gardens. Of course, you'll need to provide suggestions and encouragement.)
6. Gently use gardening experiences as good lessons in life. Older kids can understand that actions have consequences, and that sometimes things just don't turn out as we planned. Regardless of the overall success of their first efforts, help the kids feel good about their efforts … and promise to help them learn to be even better gardeners next year.
7. Take some pictures of your kids' success. Let them know that you're proud of their efforts.
8. Talk with your kids about their gardening experience. Find out what they liked and didn't like. Listen to them.
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