It’s no secret that gardening boasts a bounty of benefits. On top of the readily-available, fresh produce at your disposal, the healthy characteristics found in gardeners have been decorated across countless studies, from bone repair to blood sugar reduction.
But while the advantages of adult gardening tend to fall in the meditative and health categories, in the case of kids gardening, those benefits have traditionally been deemed as innocent fun. It’s truly a captivating, imaginative process – watch a tiny seed spawn into a living, breathing organism from right beneath your feet. And what’s more, kids gardening is an activity that promotes familial bonding, with gardeners of all ages having the ability to get their hands a little dirty with earth.
While gardening for kids can certainly be a fun pastime, what parents may not comprehend is the much more overarching education their child is receiving while their hands are immersed in earth.
They’ll witness the life cycle on a smaller stage
The cycle of life and death tends to be an immovable life lesson that the majority of humans come to fully understand with time. But for smaller children, the passing of a pet or grandparent can leave them incredibly confused and frustrated, as the concept of death can sometimes be a bit too abstract to fully grasp.
But as the cultivators of their own backyard gardens, children will bear witness to the inevitable cycle of life and death
on a much smaller, palpable stage. Although the initial sprouting (or birth) of a plant will ignite quite a bit excitement for children, the time will inevitably come for the plant to decay, and eventually die.
Before your child’s plant has lost its last pedal or stem, have a discussion as to what exactly is happening to the plant. Why are the stems brown, and why are they wilting? Although it’s a difficult discussion to face in theory, kids gardening can subtly prepare them for one of life’s most predictable lessons.
They’ll begin to identify how step-by-step processes result in products
Kids have a tendency to see things as simple products, rather than a series of steps.
The pizza is a pizza – and nothing else. Of course, the child doesn’t fully understand that the veggies, pepperonis, cheeses and dough were compiled in a step-by-step process, one that took a fair amount of effort.
Kids gardening can be an excellent tool for laying the educational foundations for step-by-step building. Consider allotting several different plots in your home garden for different kinds of favorite foods. For example, is there a family stew your child has come to know? Or veggies found in a sandwich they take to school every day? Try identifying these plots as “stew” or “sandwich” gardens, allowing children to witness the palpable making of a product—not just its outcome.
They’ll learn the tremendous rewards – or unfortunate sorrow – or nurturing (or failing to nurture) something.
Just because a child may be aware of a life cycle, doesn’t mean they will truly understand the effort – and turmoil – it can take to arrive at a finished product.
Promoting the arena for successful kids gardening is dependent on proper nurturing. Plants are organisms, and a creature that requires just as much attention and care as any other living, breathing entity. Best case scenario, your child will under nurture and care for their garden, and arrive at a successful outcome.
Or, in a better case scenario, they’ll fail. Although it will be undoubtedly depressing, do your best to help your child pinpoint where exactly the garden went wrong. Did you fail to water the plants each day? Did you opt to place your garden in an unsafe spot?
They’ll bear witness to the fact that not everything is predictable.
As rewarding, enjoyable and fascinating as kids gardening can be for your tot, the cultivating of plants and produce can have its tragic downsides.
Nature happens. Squirrels, insects and unfortunate weather are all external variables that can wreak havoc on your child’s garden. Although your their initial reaction will undoubtedly be of upset (as yours has certainly been before in the past with extreme freezes), do your best to console your child with patience. Although an unfortunate accident occurred, there’s no better time than the present to pick up the pieces, and continue to cultivate your kid’s gardening once again.