Gardening with Your Children

Now that Spring has arrived, it’s time to think about outdoor activities to do with the whole family. Many parents are hoping that these activities will not only be fun for the whole family, but will help their children grow and learn at the same time. This segment was featured on The Rhode Show.

A garden is a perfect Spring outdoor activity that will teach your children many different important lessons. Planting a garden doesn’t have to be a huge production – if you have a backyard to use that is great – but it can also be done in small pots.

Here are some benefits your child can get from planting a garden:

  • Promotes Healthy Eating:

    Eating healthy food is vital for brain and body development, but let’s be honest – it can be hard to get kids to eat greens and fruits. By having children grow their own healthy foods, it can give them a sense of pride in eating what they have “created”. It also shows them the growing process of foods they typically see on the shelves at supermarkets.

  • Engages All the Senses:

    Kids learn best when using all their senses. By planting, they can touch and smell the dirt, seeds, and flowers. They can see vibrant colors, and hear sounds of insects, the water pouring into the soil, and the plants or flowers being picked. Involving all the senses and pointing them out helps kids understand the whole concept of gardening.

  • Develops Fine Motor Skills:

    Scooping the dirt, placing the seeds in the ground, and pouring the water all take fine motor control and strength. Gardening will help young kids develop these muscles in their hands and arms, which in turn will help them grip pencils. This will improve writing both letters and numbers, and help hone other academic skills, as well.

  • Teaches Responsibility/Patience:

    Gardening is a great way to teach children responsibility and patience. Kids will learn that they need to take care of their seeds every day for them to grow big and strong, just like they need to take care of their own bodies to grow. You can craft a checklist of responsibilities for your kids to make sure they are giving the plants everything they need to grow. Instant gratification is a necessity to some, but gardening is often a slow process and will help reinforce that things take time to grow. We can use this as a tool to teach our kids that some things don’t happen overnight. When they see the final product, they will know it was worth the wait!

  • Introduces & Improves Scientific Concepts/ Math Skills:

    For those who have older kids, gardening can really help with math and science. Gardening has many teachable moments with math from measuring the soil depth to counting the number of seeds you will need. Gardening can also be a wonderful tool to introduce different scientific categories like botany, biology, and chemistry. They can also learn about hypotheses and create some based on the vegetables, fruits, or flowers that they choose to plant.

Gardening can be a great bonding activity that the whole family can participate and take pride in. For all ages, it can be a learning tool for various lessons. Like we mentioned before, it doesn’t have to be a huge task or chore; you can plant a couple seeds and see how your child does with them. If they love it, plant a few more! You can create a garden in a large backyard or small scale somewhere in your house – just remember to have fun!

This article was written by Brent Elliott, Assistant Director at The Children’s Workshop in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

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