If your kids see gardening as a chore on the same level as tidying their rooms, it may be time to change their attitude and teach them to see it differently. Most children are naturally inquisitive and encouraging them to help out in the garden is a great way to answer some of the questions they may have on nature, insects, the environment, and weather. Children gardening can learn so much more such as
Children gardening can learn so much more such as problem solving, leadership and responsibility, teamwork and independence. And of course, if you routinely feel that the only time you spend with your kids is eating meals or watching TV, gardening can be an enjoyable way to spend that important quality time with them.
Children as young as three can help in the garden, although you should limit activities to simple tasks, such as planting seeds or weeding. As your children get older, they can take on more responsibilities; a six year old might enjoy choosing flowers based on color, smell and appearance, while a ten year old is able to tend their own small patch of garden. And most kids like to use a hose or a watering can and water plants; getting wet in the process is all part of the fun. You may have to buy kid friendly and safer gardening tools; in most cases these are perfectly adequate for getting the job done as long as you buy good quality.
One of the most effective ways to get children gardening is to give them their very own space to be responsible for. Taking ownership of even just a few square feet of garden will help to encourage responsibility and a sense of achievement. Choosing their own flowers and shrubs and having input into the layout and design also helps to get children interested, and most younger kids can’t resist a bed of brightly colored plants. Flowering plants or edible plants also hold more appeal for children than grasses or ferns. If your kids are planting seeds, give them an idea of what the plants will look like when they bloom next spring.
Make sure your children are involved in the entire process, including everything from shopping for plants and accessories, planting, watering and weeding to trimming and pest control. Showing them that gardening is a year round task is important, and keeping a journal or scrapbook, or taking photos of the different stages of their garden can also prevent a loss of interest. Offer encouragement, help and support if your children seem interested in cultivating plants or vegetables, but don’t hover too much. Remember, it’s supposed to be their project and if they make a mistake, they will learn from it.
If you are lucky enough to live near to a beautifully landscaped garden that is open to the public, take your children there – they may see it through fresh eyes after helping out in the garden at home. For most children gardening really can be enjoyable and rewarding, and can turn into a lifelong hobby – perhaps as it did for you.