If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know I’m a big believer in the value of gardening with children.
Both of my kids have helped out in the garden since they were tiny, and it’s been such a positive part of our family life. As a result I’ve always been keen on spreading the word about the benefits of gardening with kids.
In the last two years, interest in gardening for kids has doubled, with google searches on ways to get kids gardening seeing a big increase. That’s a lot of kids – and families – discovering the fun and benefits of gardening!
I’m sure such a big surge in searches for kids garden ideas was sparked by the pandemic. Parents needed to find ways to keep kids entertained at home, and suddenly had to rely on their gardens more. It’s really important that children are encouraged to keep gardening after lockdowns are lifted, so that they can continue to enjoy gardening and all it has to offer.
The benefits of gardening with kids
There are so many reasons why gardening with children is a great idea. Take a look at this list of the key benefits of gardening for kids from educational toy and games specialist Learning Resources.
Gardening is fun!
I think children are very natural gardeners, which is why they find it so much fun. Children like hands-on activities, they’re curious about nature, and generally kids love the chance to get grubby. Kids garden activities cater for all of this, and right from toddler stage it’s perfectly possible for children to get stuck in.
Gardening is fantastic for sensory development
The humble task of gardening involves all five senses. Children can see the different colours of plants, smell the amazing scents from flowers and herbs, and feel the texture of petals, stems and soil. Sound is covered too, with grasses and trees waving in the wind and insects buzzing around. Get the kids planting edible plants and you can even include taste exploration.
Gardening keeps kids healthy
Gardening projects are a really great way to get kids outside and moving, at any time of year. As a result it’s an easy way to encourage them to have an active lifestyle. Growing your own veggies and fruit can also help children develop an interest in healthy eating.
Gardening can be hugely beneficial to children’s mental health too. Spending time engaging with nature is proven to make kids feel calmer and less stressed.
Gardening with kids is a great opportunity to learn
There are plenty of learning opportunities in gardening that stretch far beyond how to dig the perfect hole. In addition to gaining valuable knowledge about the garden and how to plant things, gardening also helps kids to learn about nature.
Gardening allows you to investigate how the seasons change, how pollination works, why it’s important to take care of nature and our local wildlife, and where our food comes from. Being able to explore these areas in a hands-on activity is a great way to engage and inspire children.
Gardening helps kids practice patience
Children live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification-led world. To help counter this, it’s great to give them access to activities that you simply can’t speed up. Gardening is a perfect option.
Gardening with children will naturally allow them to practice having patience. For example, if they plant seeds, they will have to wait to see the results of their work. Or if they make homemade bird feeders, they might need to wait in order to see which birds visit them.
Gardening can bring the family together
Struggling to come up with activities that everyone in the family can do? Have a go at gardening.
Gardening is an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. It’s easy to involve children of different ages in the same project, and if the grown-ups get stuck in too it can be a really fun, low-cost way to spend time as a family. And because the garden is literally on your doorstep, there’s very little planning required. A family gardening session is also perfect for when you all need a break from the screens.
Gardening teaches kids about responsibility
Giving children ownership of a job in the garden, or a particular plant, is a fantastic way to teach them about responsibility. They will become so much more engaged if they can ‘own’ some of the gardening.
Providing a small patch of earth or a container to look after is an ideal garden activity for kids here. It’s also a great way to make gardening fun for children. Encourage them to choose their plants, write or make their own plant markers, decorate their little plot, and learn how to look after the plants and the wildlife that pays a visit.
They’ll finally eat their vegetables!
I know from my own experience of gardening with my kids that children are far more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they can see where they came from.
Children can sometimes struggle to eat unfamiliar foods. Encouraging them to grow their own fruit and veg is a great way to introduce them to a healthy lifestyle. From garden to table, you will instil in your child a love of food and make it less daunting for them to try something new. It’s also huge fun to pick a strawberry or a pea pod from a plant and scoff it there and then!
Learning Resources has a handy guide for growing fruit and vegetables, featuring an easy-to-digest infographic showing kids when to plant, and how to look after their plants from seed to shoot. To help incentivise kids to get their 5 A Day, parents can also download the free Fresh Fruit & Veggie Reward Chart.
More inspiration on gardening with kids
Learning Resources are experts in all things learning, and have dedicated an entire section of their blog to learning in the great outdoors. There are lots of fun activities, how-to guides, and explainers for young children, plus plenty of tips on gardening activities for kids.
You might also like to take a look at my new book, A Year of Nature Craft & Play, which includes lots of kids gardening ideas and fun nature play inspiration. My blog posts on 10 brilliant gardening projects to do with children and 50 fun ideas to get kids gardening also have lots of ideas on gardening for children, and my printable list of easy kids outdoor activities will help to keep them busy!
What’s your top tip for gardening with kids?