Why You Should Garden With Your Kids
If you have a kid, then you know how serious kids can be about their career aspirations. Astronaut, prima ballerina, world-leading heart surgeon, olympian, ocean explorer…And as parents (or older siblings or grandparents), we want to help them achieve everything they want.
Turns out, gardening is a non-stressful and effective way to help them on the way to their dreams. Gardening boosts your kids’ imagination, their spirits, and their understanding of the world. Simultaneously, you’ll be fostering better relationships with your kids, and they’ll be having loads of fun.
Gardening is a great activity for kids of all ages, but it’s especially beneficial for your little ones. They can begin reaping the benefits of gardening as early as three years old—although, feel free to start earlier! There’s no shortage of the mental, emotional, and physical rewards of gardening.
Here’s why you should garden with your children and an easy guide to get you started.
For starters, gardening with your kid can help develop your child’s brain in a big way.
Studies reveal that children who garden with their parents score markedly higher on scientific achievement tests. As you and your kids watch a seed develop into a plant, you’ll have many opportunities to teach important scientific concepts. Questions like, “Why do plants need sun? How does the plant ‘drink’? What are roots?” are bound to come up. Gardening gives parents an opportunity to introduce children to the science of the earth—and well before they’d learn about photosynthesis and soil composition in schools.
But science isn’t the only academic subject gardening will introduce. As you’re growing, you’ll help your kid measure out food, measure the water, measure how much the plant has grown from week-to-week, count the blooms…For kids that are pre-kindergarten, gardening will help them learn everyday and important math concepts. The sooner they understand the practical application of “1, 2, 3” and a ruler, the bigger advantage they’ll have when they begin school, where math often becomes an abstract practice.
Additionally, gardening with kids helps them understand the earth’s processes. We are all taught vaguely where our food comes from, but gardening is an immediate and interactive example of that vital process. Your child will have a deeper understanding of where the food he or she eats begins and how it grows. Additionally, growing opens up opportunities to discuss the agricultural community and the environment at large—an often overlooked subject which is absolutely essential for education!
Most of all though, gardening will inevitably trigger your children’s imagination. Learning new things and observing growth and change sends your kids on a creative spree. Imagination is natural to young people—maintaining and nurturing it as they grow is the hard part. Helping you kid garden may be helping your kid achieve their out-of-this-world aspirations.
When you buy tomatoes or carrots from the grocery store, you’re buying food that has been prematurely harvested and then allowed to ripen as it ships. When you harvest fresh from your garden, your food has been allowed to fully ripen on the vine, meaning that the nutrients in your vegetables have fully developed.
Essentially, one of the pros of gardening with your little one is that they’ll be eating and learning about healthy, nutrient-filled food. And at such a young age, nutrients really matter! Eating freshly harvested food will help your child grow into their best physical and mental self. (It also happens that the quickest and easiest food items to grow—spinach, garlic, and beets—are hugely helpful in boosting brain development.)
As your kid grows with you, he or she will develop a general understanding of nutrients. They’ll learn where fresh food comes from and what it tastes like. As they do so, you can open up a discussion about what’s healthy and why, including what a well-balanced diet looks like. Children are also much more inclined to taste food that they’ve grown themselves. So, if you haven’t gotten your child to try spinach yet, let them grow it with you!
Additionally, simply being outside is hugely helpful in children’s development. In the era of technology (and the era of urban families), kids spend increasing amounts of time inside with their computers or phones and less time outside soaking up the imperative Vitamin D.
However, the sun is not the only reason being outside is important. Soil contains a special kind of bacteria called mycobacterium vaccae. This is a bacteria that directly alleviates symptoms of psoriasis, allergies, and asthma. Scientists hypothesize that the increase of asthma and allergies is due to the lack of mycobacterium children intake during their daily lives. So, especially you urban dwellers, take your kids out to help plant! They’ll love getting dirty, and their immune systems will love it too.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS
Helping your child develop sympathetic and secure emotional intelligence is one of the hardest parts of raising a kid. Believe it or not, gardening is a way to achieve this!
First and foremost, every child needs meaningful family connections. Growing forces us to put down technology. Gardening promotes communication between family members and encourages meaningful relationships. The time when you and your kid are watering your plant or harvesting is a time when they can ask you questions. Sometimes, it’s about gardening, but just as often, it includes topics well-beyond growing. It’s a moment of quiet attentiveness that is amiable to strengthening meaningful relationships.
Besides, young gardeners develop an early understanding of input and output. If you don’t water, the plant dies. If you take care of it, the plant produces fruit! Then, when your child succeeds (most likely with your help), they get to reap the rewards. Essentially, container gardening is a precursor to the family pet. Gardening is clear: you reap what you sow. Growing is makes this life lesson easy to understand for young ages.
Further, growing helps to develop the practice of nurture. We at Gardenuity believe everyone should experience the joy that comes from caring for something. Why not begin the practice of nurture young? Children are definitely capable of it, and it will help them in their future relationships. Not to mention, growing fosters a deep appreciation and respect for the earth.
WHAT & HOW DO I GROW WITH MY KIDS?
As far as what to grow, we recommend lettuce or mesclun—they’re quick and reliable veggies (and also a great way to pique your kid’s interest in eating salads). Radishes are also notorious super growers, ideal for extra young children. Then, there is the all-time classic: carrots. They take slightly longer to mature, but almost all kids love carrots and will be thrilled as their tops pop through the dirt. If you’re looking for quick returns and utmost ease, herbs are the way to go. We guarantee your child will be excited to harvest and garnish leaves.
Overall though, let your child have a say in what you grow. They’ll stay invested and be more involved when it’s time to harvest.
As far as how…well, the good news is that Gardenuity has made it really easy to involve your kids in growing. In fact, you don’t have to know the first thing about gardening to grow successfully with your kids.
If you’re concerned about whether your kid will be interested in growing, it might be easier than you think. There’s a natural magnetic attraction between kids and the earth—every child loves to play outside. They make mud, discover weeds, try to eat grass, and constantly pick up roly-polys. And studies have shown that gardening outside tends to focus the attention of people of all ages.
Here are some easy tips to keep your kids invested in the grow.
1. It might sound silly, but give them real tools (as long as they are safe and reasonable). The reality is, your kids can often handle more than you think. Giving them a visual representation of their responsibility is confidence-boosting and focusing.
2. Start from seeds. We’re sure your kids will also love live plants too, but starting from our seed squares gives your kid an opportunity to see the growing process in its entirety. It takes more patience, but the reward is more exciting for them.
3. Involve the whole family! Seeing older siblings and parents invested in growing a certain plant or plants will encourage them to keep interested.
4. Give them real responsibility. Your kid can handle it (even if you need to help them out behind the scenes). Let them plant, water, harvest, AND help cook in the kitchen afterward. The direct garden-to-table link will be thrilling to them.
5. Show off their work! Every kid loves a proud nod from their parents, so don’t be afraid to showcase your kid’s growing capabilities to your neighbors and friends.
We don’t think you’ll have any issues getting your kid excited about gardening, and we guarantee that the benefits to their mental, physical, and emotional self will be enormous. It’s an opportunity for you to grow closer to your kid(s) and open up a habit of growth.
Life lessons abound in the garden. We’re positive your little one will learn and grow by growing!