If you have ever been around young children before, you know how interested they can be when it comes to assisting an adult while they are doing an activity. Whether it’s washing the car, cooking dinner, or taking care of the yard, children will enjoy pitching in and they will benefit from spending quality time with their family. As the weather gets warmer and you spend more time outside tending to your yard, you may find that your child is very interested in helping you take care of the garden. Gardening is not only a soothing and relaxing hobby, it’s also a great way to stimulate your child’s senses and instill in them a love for growing things.
Of course, getting young children involved in certain activities can be a challenge, but the important thing to remember is they enjoy feeling like they are part of the process and take pride in their responsibilities. Gardening with your children doesn’t have to mean starting an outdoor project from scratch. In fact, doing so may lead to both of you feeling overwhelmed. Depending on the age of your child, start with having them water the plants or pick out weeds or you can start with a small garden, maybe just a few pots on your porch or, if you live in an apartment where space is limited, a few plants under a grow light works too.
If your child seems to be interested in gardening beyond just wanting to help mom and dad, families should encourage their child to pursue their passion and interest. To keep your young, up-and-coming gardener interested and excited about their budding new hobby, choose plants that are colorful, flavorful and/or fragrant. If you’re planting from seeds, choose plants that come from large seeds so that little hands are able to easily sow them into the soil. It is also a good idea to choose plants that you will be able to harvest quickly such as beans or sunflowers, so that your child doesn’t lose interest while waiting for them to grow. Avoid slow-growing plants or fruits and vegetables that take all season to form such as watermelons and pumpkins. Another great idea is to choose fruits or vegetables that your child likes to eat. There is nothing more rewarding than eating something that grew in your very own garden! As a bonus, if your child tends to be a picky eater, they may be more open to trying new foods since they grew the vegetables and fruits themselves.
Keep in mind that as children become more interested in gardening and in plants in general, you’ll need to ensure that they do not come into contact with irritating, poisonous, or otherwise harmful plants. Make sure that they know right from the beginning that it is never okay to put any plant into their mouths without the consent of a parent or guardian. Even an organic garden free of pesticides and herbicides can still contain harmful plants. As with any outdoor activity; don’t forget the sunscreen!
With these tips, you and your child can share the pleasures and rewards of gardening.