I am a strong advocate for engaging children in their outdoor surroundings, environment and gardens.
There are endless great gardening ideas for children that will help you as parents, teachers, grandparents and family to give children a sound introduction to the joys of gardening.
Out in the Fresh Air
I sometimes think in these days of modern technology, computers, virtual reality and online activities that children are in danger of losing their natural connection with the outdoors.
There is so much for them to learn and enjoy from being outside with nature, also their well-being and general health and fitness rely on outdoor activities. Children love to be outdoors playing, running around and having fun so let’s encourage this. gardening-for-well-being-why-gardening-is-good-for-your-health/
We should instil in them a love of wildlife, nature and flowers and teach them how to grow all sorts of plants including vegetables. For some this will turn into, at the very least a lifelong, interesting hobby and at the most, could be a rewarding and satisfying career.
From a very young age children are naturally curious, they’re fearless and eager to be into everything. In a garden there are myriad ways to entertain your child.
Let them choose their own gardening tools. Child sized, brightly coloured trowels, forks, rakes and spades will help kick-start their interest.
Projects Children will Enjoy
- Let them Dig… If you’re planting new plants for instance, let your child help, they love digging in soil and getting muddy! Welly boots, a watering can and a child size trowel equal hours of fun for a youngster.
- Bugs and Insects… Show them how to find different bugs and insects. Teach them what they are and how important it is to have these garden creatures. Explain about bees and other pollinators. How to identify them. Ladybirds, bees, butterflies, frogs, newts, snails, hedgehogs and many others.
- Sow the Seeds of interest… Sow the seed of interest and watch it grow. Show them how to plant seeds, examples of easy seeds to grow that kids will love are sunflowers, sweet peas, snap peas, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums and pumpkins. These are all great for keeping your child interested and engaged.Stimulate their senses too, touch, smell, taste, soft flowers and foliage, the scent of shrubs will arouse a child s curiosity.
- Give them their Own Garden… If you can let your child have part of the garden to call their own they will be more encouraged to look after it, they take ownership of their own space. Or if space is limited then a few pots will suffice. If you don’t have a garden, then search out parks and green spaces in your neighbourhood where you can take kids. Planting vegetables teaches them where food comes from, why it is healthy and good for them to eat. Having your child help you to grow vegetables is a surefire way to get them to enjoy eating veg more. Tip… colourful, unusual vegetables like potatoes… and cherry tomatoes make them more interested in produce.
- Make a Wildlife Pond… Involve children in making a wildlife pond.
- Plant some seeds both vegetables and flowers. How-to-grow-seeds-5-easy-steps
Keep them Interested
Make a find and name quiz… simply put together some picture cards of insects, bugs, flowers etc and send your kids off to find them.
Drawing and painting flowers, bugs, creatures etc will also help children to relate with garden creatures and to value them.
Put up bird nesting boxes and feeders. This gives children another reason to focus on what is going on in the garden. They will soon learn how to identify garden birds. Have a count of how many birds you get in the garden and which type.
Help Children Make Something for the Garden
- A pond can easily be made with a small tub, bucket or wash bowl.
- All you need to do is clear a small area of the garden of weeds and debris.
- Dig a hole, slightly larger than your bucket/tub and as deep, place your bucket in the hole, your bucket needs to sit level with the ground.
- Back fill any gaps around the bucket.
- Place some stones and pebbles of varying sizes around the bucket and if you like some larger pebbles in the bucket too.
- Fill the bucket with water.
- Add some plants to the surrounding area.
- Add some small water plants to the pond.
Bug hotels are really popular with kids.
Make a log pile for bugs and insects.
Plant a pot of herbs or flowers.
School or local Gardening Club
Many schools now have their own garden where kids can get involved with learning how to grow things.
If there is a school garden club enroll your kids in it, they will learn social skills, patience, how to interact with other children as well as learning how to grow and care for plants and have lots of fun, while also benefiting from being out in the fresh air!
Community gardens and/or allotments are also great places for kids to learn and interact with others.
One of my clients a few years ago asked if I would mind if her grandson Josh helped me in the garden when he wasn’t at school. He was about 7 or 8 years old at the time.
He would love to help me tidy and weed. He would help put all the rubbish in bins or compost bins. I taught him how to take cuttings from plants and how to grow seeds.
We had loads of cuttings, plants etc in the greenhouse by the end of his school summer holidays.
Now, I will tell you that Josh is hard of hearing and has learning difficulties, however he loves gardening. When he went onto secondary education he attended a special school for deaf children, he was so excited to tell me there was a garden at his new school.
Children there learnt how to grow vegetables mainly, which they then were taught how to cook. They grew enough produce to supply the school kitchens.
Josh was winner of a young horticulturalist award and has now gone on to horticulture college. I am so proud of him.
The moral of this story is that teaching kids from a young age about gardening, wildlife and nature is a fine way to give them a firm grounding in their outdoor spaces.
There really is no excuse. Come on everyone let’s engage the next generation of horticulturalists. Get kids outdoors, learning, playing, planting, growing, gardening and having fun. Who knows where it may lead. Horticulture has any number of different career choices.
Landscape, garden centers, plants nursery, environmental and scientific to name but a few.
I hope this article has been useful to you. Please share with friends and family and social media.
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