How Vegetable Gardening Can Benefit Kids
March 02, 2018 at 12:16 PM
If you have very energetic children and you want them to calm down a little, there is no better way than getting them to help you in the garden.
You do not have to be an expert; it can be something that you both do together. This can help in many ways for both of you, as you learn together.
Younger children will enjoy the “getting dirty” aspect of gardening. It also helps them to learn lessons on being patient and responsible. One of the biggest lessons your child will learn when helping in the garden is where food comes from, and what is required to nurture it and help it grow.
When you decide on planting your own garden with children in mind, things are a little different than if you were planting a full-sized vegetable patch. Items to consider for the little ones are clear paths and narrower beds so that they can reach the plants in the center. It is advisable to set a small area aside for their very own planting; they can then see the results of their efforts much more clearly.
Children love results, and more often than not they want to see them immediately. Many plants take a while to germinate and grow. To aid with their sense of gratification, choose a few vegetables that will give quick results and are easy to tend for. Check out this Kids’ Summer Garden planting plan as one example of a great collection. The information on the backs of seed packets at your local garden center is also a great resource.
Radishes are a great choice, as they mature in as little as 21 days. Carrots, lettuce, peas, and green beans are also easy to grow and tend to be popular with kids.
Kids will also be more likely to eat what they have grown; they see where the veggies have come from, and it is something that gives them a sense of accomplishment. Once the veggies start growing, kids will be introduced to many different smells, textures, and tastes, which may help expand limited palates.
Dress your kids according to the weather; they can have their own gardening clothes, such as an old jacket, pants, and rain boots. Also, make sure you do not forget their sunscreen.
Most children love to dig, so getting a smaller set of tools will allow them to dig to their heart's content. The garden may need a little help in the beginning, however, but once the earth has been tilled, they will be able to dig and plant their own seeds.
Children have no fear of things that creep and crawl in the garden. Letting them explore all the things they find helps them understand where insects come from and the effect they have on the earth. Rather than telling them that insects are dirty, let your children explore their natural nurturing instincts and tend for whatever they find.
Keeping Things Safe
As children are prone to running and often falling, all sharp tools should be kept out of the way, as should any sprays or chemicals that you are using. Better yet, try growing organically, so your kids are not exposed to unnecessary chemicals. Children can be much more sensitive to chemicals than adults.
Stress, Focus, and Wellbeing
Gardening with children can go a long way toward helping them to reduce stress while participating in an activity they enjoy. The calming effect on children and adults alike goes far beyond the physical aspect of gardening. Children will naturally relax from the many stresses and distractions they face in their daily lives. As they grow older - having learned to appreciate breathing in clean, fresh air and being engrossed in their gardening chores - they often turn to this healthy outlet to calm themselves.
Other enhanced areas are memory and focus. All of a child’s cognitive functions, alertness, and social skills are enhanced. A child’s mental ability improves once they are exposed to green spaces, and their own little garden is the ideal place. Any children who have ADHD can also gain benefit from growing veggies, as the symptoms for this are often relieved.
Gardening has also been shown to help relieve the signs of depression and anxiety, which can be high in children. As children become healthier and more aware of everything around them, they will have a much higher chance of feeling a sense of psychological well-being.
Gardening can be an enriching experience for both of you as it can help you bond, and your child will ask many questions about all facets of life. Now is the time to beginning planting the roots for your child’s gardening experience.
About the Author – A gardening and yard care expert for over 30 years, Tim Graham writes for YardandGardenGuru.com