Gardening with Kids: Cultivating Food and Life Lessons

Gardening offers tons of health benefits, from boosting mood and reducing stress to improving memory. No wonder, it’s often used as therapy in senior care facilities. Some drug rehabilitation centers also utilize gardening to help people gain mental and spiritual wellness, recover, and regain control over their lives.

But other than boosting seniors and adults’ physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, gardening also helps young kids in their development. With the right approach, parents can use gardening to instill good habits and skills in their children, helping them grow and have a healthy and balanced life as adults. Here are a few ways to encourage your kids to love gardening:

Include your children in choosing plants to grow

One way to help kids gain a sense of ownership and independence is to let them have some control. Start by allowing them to choose seed packets and planter boxes to use. You can guide them in this process by explaining the difference between plants and the importance of having native plants in the backyard. This way, you don’t only hone their sense of ownership and decision-making skills. But you also get to introduce to them the value of biodiversity, ecosystem, and all things related to nature and the environment.

Create a plant growing chart

Children love to track things on a chart. Once you’ve planted the seedlings, let them get a ruler, measure the sprouts as they grow, and record this on a chart. You can also print out a calendar page, where your kids can map out when each new development occurs. Allow them to mark a date for every milestone.

A plant growing chart is also a great way to cultivate habits. Explain that hitting plant growth milestones requires sticking to habits like watering the plants, pulling out weeds, and tending the garden weekly. These experiences offer bite-sized lessons in creating healthy habits, organizing, and being responsible.

Eat the fruits of your labors

tomatoes

If you have chosen to grow plants in your backyard, make sure to eat the fruits of your labors. This way, your kids get firsthand experience of the food cycle and gain a sense of fulfillment. Cook a delicious meal and let your kids help prepare it. Got some tomatoes and basil? How about you make Margherita pizza or spaghetti? For snacks, slice some carrots and strawberries you’ve grown in your backyard. And if you have a surplus of produce, encourage your kids to pick those that they want to donate to local food banks.

Visit a farmer’s market

By gardening at home, children begin to understand where their meals come from. To further develop their interest, you can bring them to a farmer’s market if it’s safe to do so amid the coronavirus pandemic. A visit to a farmer’s market or a farm itself helps kids connect the dots and may even help them appreciate the earth and the farmers who work hard to help families bring food to the table.

Getting your kids involved in gardening is a good way to spend quality time and instill good lessons. But keep in mind to start small. It’s better to grow a small garden successfully than to take on an unrealistic larger project that may end up with poor results. You want your kids’ first try at gardening to be a positive experience, so they love it and do it over again and again.

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