Benefits of Gardening for Children
Gardening is a long-time favorite hobby for many who enjoy being surrounded by nature and creating something beautiful from nothing. It’s also a fantastic adventure and learning experience for children who often spend too much time indoors. But hours being spent inside on screens doesn’t have to be the norm. Involving children in gardening is a great way to get kids outside and to engage them in a fun and fruitful activity. Pun intended.
So, what are some of the many benefits of gardening for children? And how can you cultivate their passion for growing things?
Cheap bulk candies and video games are often on the top of a kid’s to-do list. While these things are fine in moderation, it’s up to parents to promote balance. One of the main benefit of gardening for children is a form of physical activity that gets them moving and helps burn off the excess energy they acquire while sitting still.
In addition to providing a form of physical exercise, gardening can also help children develop healthy eating habits. Encourage your children to choose and plant a few vegetables during their gardening efforts. The novelty of eating something they’ve grown themselves may outweigh any arguments they might have about eating their veggies. And teaching them where food comes from helps give them an appreciation for farmers and other community members who help grow food.
Appreciation for Living Things
Another benefit of gardening for children is it can help develop mindfulness. As you work with your kids to grow things, discuss the hard work that farmers do every day to put food on your table. Talk about the bugs that you find in the dirt and how they all play a role in the natural world. (Boys will especially love this!) Teach your children about how the plants grow, and the differences between annuals and perennials. Examine the different leaf shapes from the different types of plants. The discussion possibilities are endless.
Not only will these practices help your child develop an appreciation for the living world, but it will also provide great learning opportunities and promote discussion and curiosity.
Taking care of a garden is a great way to develop a sense of responsibility in children. Whereas the consequences for not cleaning one’s room might be a punishment, failure to take care of a garden means that the plants die.
Helping take care of a garden is a simple way to start setting a foundation for chores and responsibility for one’s actions or inactions. It can also be easily scaled to suit different age groups. A younger child might be responsible for watering the plants each day, whereas an older child might have to help with weeding. Giving your child a spot of the garden (or a few pots if you’re container gardening) will give them the freedom and responsibility to care for something on their own. This is one of the natural benefits of gardening for children, and it can come from taking care of any living thing.
In addition to being more active, gardening has other health benefits that often go overlooked. For example, exposure to the sun can increase levels of vitamin D and have positive mood-boosting effects. Fresh air improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. And while these may not seem like health issues that children struggle with now, learning to garden gives them a lifetime skill that they can carry throughout their entire life.
Gardening can help improve a child’s self-esteem as they look upon a plant that they’ve helped to grow. The sense of accomplishment and pride will flourish in both you and your child, as they look at their garden and you look at them. And the benefits of growing their own fruits and veggies are pretty tasty too!
The lifetime skill of being able to grow and care for plants and living things is something we all need. By teaching children early where their food comes from and how to grow it, we are setting our children up for success later in life. Being able to grow your own food saves money, promotes healthy eating (there are no Butterfinger trees), and gives them something to rely on if times get hard (Victory gardens were a very real thing.).
So encourage your kids and/or grandkids to get growing. Give them a bit of freedom in what they grow, but help to teach and guide them about how to garden well. You may reap the tasty benefits soon thereafter!