This topic was featured on The Modern Parent segment on the Rhode Show. Click here to see Miss Tracy's episode.
As a parent we get so busy that we don’t take time for the small things. Gardening is a great opportunity to spend time with your children and also get benefits from what you do. It is an opportunity to teach children about nature and science. The benefits are not just learning but teaching children to try different healthier foods. These are simple activities that you can instill in your child and it’s much easier than trying to get them to try a vegetable. Children are more apt to eat what they grow than something from a can.
Lessons children can learn
· Learning about nature
·Positive attitudes about the environment
Benefits for children who garden
·Increase interest in eating fruits and vegetables that leads to healthier diets
·Improvement in behavior
·Self-esteem improves they have a sense of accomplishments
·Greater sense of ownership and responsibility.
·Physical and mental health such as reduced stress, lower blood pressure and reduced muscle tension for both children and adults.
Let your children help as much as possible
·Children love to imitate adults. Make an area where your child has their own space to plant and take care of.
·Give them tools that they can maneuver, you don’t want them using a rake that is twice their size.
·Young children love to water; a small watering can or spray bottle can give them endless fun.
·Don’t expect them to do garden as long as you would like to. Provide them with toy lawn mower, small wheel barrel or wagon. You will be surprised how long the will play putting stuff in, taking out, and moving around.
·Expect some plants to get damaged, this is ok they are learning.
Grow plants children love and grow fast
·Radishes grow fast and children see fast results, even though they may not eat them it’s great to see how fast they come up.
·Sunflowers are the most versatile plants for children to grow. Some have colors, grow really tall, short. There is a large variety and fun to watch grow.
·Green beans are fun. You can plant them with everyone’s name in the house. Put one name on each plant and see them race as they grown and climb.
·Make a living t-pee. Three large sticks tied together at the top, plant morning glories or pole beans. They climb and cover the t-pee. Children can go in/out. So much fun.
·Pumpkins take a while to grow, but just imagine your child’s face when they pick one that they grew.
·Chamomile, read the story Peter Rabbit to your child once this has grown. In the story Peter’s mother gives him a cup of chamomile tea. Something that you and your child can go pick and make together.
Tools for children
·Label stakes to put next to plants
·Small wagon/wheel barrel
·Measuring tape, yard stick to measure how big the plants are growing.
There are so many things you can plant in a garden, and so many different ways, in raised beds, buckets, a large fenced in area, you can get creative planting in old shoes plants need a place to hold soil and water to leak out. Shoes do this; cinder blocks are decorative and fun. Where or what you choose to plant in is up to you and the space you have. So get outside and have fun planting.
Tracy Martin-Turgeon has been in the field of early childhood education for 22 years. She started with The Children's Workshop in September 1999 as an assistant director for and has since served as director, regional, and currently as a VP regional overseeing seven facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI. In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.