These days, it’s hard to peel kids away from endless tech activities and get them in tune with nature. One successful way our team has achieved it has been through gardening.
Gardening is a wonderful way to get kids involved with nature and teach them about organic eating and sustainable living. Gardening together also provides opportunities to learn valuable life lessons such as patience, perseverance, teamwork, planning.
Recent scientific studies prove what generations of parents already knew: Gardening is good for kids. As we learn more about microbes and the critical role they play in building a healthy immune system, scientists and parents alike are realizing that time spent outside, and specifically in the dirt, exposes kids to an array of microbes that are important in building gut-health.
Another way to build a healthy gut is related to gardening as well. A diet rich in high fiber foods like vegetables and fruits seems to ensure a wide variety of microbes in our intestines, which leads to better health. Growing your own vegetables is a great way to get kids to eat them. Use organic products to ensure the healthiest produce.
The physical aspects of gardening are great for children as well as adults. Gross motor and fine motor skills are needed to plant, water, weed and harvest plants. Hauling soil and digging beds build muscle, and it’s all done with a healthy dose of sunlight for vitamin D and fresh air.
Looking for a fun educational opportunity with your kids? Gardening is a sneaky way to learn a lot of science without even trying. Photosynthesis, seed growth, life cycle, erosion, sun cycles, compost, aeration, soil composition, insects and many more topics are naturally covered in a season. Stimulate creativity by keeping a journal while you garden, creating garden signs or photographing your progress.
Gardening promotes that close connection between parent and child that is difficult to find in our hurried, technology-saturated, over-scheduled lives. We’ve had wonderful conversations while working side by side in the garden, and we are encouraged by studies that say that kids and adults who spend time in nature are less anxious and have a heightened sense of purpose and responsibility.
Here are some ideas to make your garden time special:
Make it special “Mommy, Daddy and me” time. Leave your phones inside and bring the little ones to the garden for some one-on-one time. Teach by example that these are moments that you work together to plant, tend and harvest veggies and plants that will be enjoyed as a family.
Story time. Reading books about gardening, plants and flowers will inspire children and get them excited about planting their own garden.
Get the gear. Bring your children shopping with you to pick out their very own gloves and a shovel. Let them help choose what kinds of plants to grow.
Garden space. Speak to one of the experts at McArdle’s about how to create a garden that is organized with spaces based on gardening level, or one that has assigned spaces for each family member. Teach your children about their space and help them tend to it on a regular basis.
Create a picture book. Work with your children on a scrapbook that measures progress, show them photos online about how their specific veggies and plants will grow and even add important harvesting dates to your family calendar
Let their work shine. Create a fun family event around harvesting and eating the crop. Children love to share their work, and what better reward than to harvest and cook the crop together before sharing it with family and friends? Use your garden-grown flowers to decorate your home and give a fresh bouquet to brighten someone’s day.