Children learn new things every single day, and often through play, social interaction, and by just getting their hands dirty! Creating a children’s garden is not only a great way for kids to learn skills that’ll last a lifetime, it will also bring on a lot of teachable moments. Growing a garden with your child will help you bond all the while creating something new and maybe even help kids develop an early appreciation of vegetables!
But beyond developing great eating habits, gardening with your child can deliver countless benefits that will help them grow, right along with the fresh flowers, plants and veggies. Here are just a few to consider.
1. Emotional Impact
The research is pretty clear. Gardening triggers a certain emotional state in humans. The positive emotions that planting, tending, and harvesting bring about have effects that are both short-term and long-term. In the short-term, happiness, calm, and satisfaction are evoked. In the long-term, emotional reactions, social behavior, and mood are all more effectively moderated.
Through encouraging gardening, you can sew the seeds of happiness deep inside your child—pun intended.
2. Skill Building
Yes, we all hear the parent who talks about their child’s impeccable organizational skills. They line their shoes up. They make their bed like they’re in the military. Their bedroom floor is spotless.
Unfortunately, when you walk into your child’s room, you see draws half open, pillows flung across the room, and toys littering every surface. And what is that gunk on the desk? Take a deep breath. This is normal. However, you can encourage your child to pursue activities that will build their organizational abilities and reduce the mess. A children’s garden is a great way to instill all of these life skills.
Gardening with your child requires planning and organizing. You can include them in this process. Together, you can learn the best time of year to plant certain seeds, how often and what time of day you should water the garden, and how the seeds should be planted to allow for optimal growth. Solving these problems, creating a plan, and organizing the garden will flow over into other areas of life—including their bedroom floor.
3. Moral Guidance
Every child and some adults believe that the world revolves around them. Children do not do this selfishly, they simply do not grasp the intricate workings of the planet and the universe.
Creating a children’s garden helps kids gain insight into how the earthworks. They begin to understand that the plants that they grow feed them, but in order for those plants to grow, they need sun, water, and nutrients.
This process of gardening with your child also gives you the chance to teach them about their responsibility to the planet and keeping it clean.
4. Enhanced Sensory Processing
There’s no escaping it, we live in a digital world. The majority of professionals work behind a screen as soon as they enter their career. A growing number of children are learning from tablets, laptops, and computers, which adds to the amount of screen time they already get from recreational digital activities.
So while children are getting plenty of audio and visual sensory development from these activities, their other senses are not being developed. And children, especially toddlers, need to spend time developing these senses. It allows them to make the connections they need to make in order to think critically and understand the world.
Gardening can help develop the touch, smell, and taste sensation. Children can dig into soil with their hands. They can gently place a seed in the ground. They can smell each plant and how they differ from one another. And once the plants have grown, they can taste the edible ones.
5. A Focus And Memory Booster
Have you ever said, “How many times do I have to tell you to…” to your child? Who are we kidding? Of course, you have. Every parent has. The short attention span and inability to focus never ceases to amaze. Gardening has the potential to cut down on forgetfulness and help children improve their ability to pay attention.
Several studies have found that when a child is exposed to gardening their alertness and cognitive abilities go up. Regular access to green space can reduce ADHD symptoms and enhance mental performance. And these improvements are only additionally developed by going further than simple access to green space, such as spending time gardening.
6. Patience Builder
Children are not used to waiting. When they need something, it is given to them. Oftentimes, when they simply want something, it is given to them. With gardening, immediate gratification just isn’t possible. Children have to be patient every single day. They have to water it even when it looks like it will never bloom. They have to wait and this waiting helps them to understand that the reward can often be worth the wait.
7. Physical Benefits
There are three sides to the physical benefits that a children’s garden can produce. The first is nutrition. We all have that annoying mother in our exercise class. She brags about how her son loves to eat hummus and spinach. But for most parents, the struggle is real. Dinner can feel more like a military negotiation than a family bonding session.
Gardening can transform this dilemma. When children are involved in growing a fruit tree or planting a vegetable garden, they take ownership of the plants. They see a part of themselves in each and every fruit and vegetable that is produced. They want to taste it and, nine times out of 10, they love it. Before you know it, you’ll get to be that annoying parent bragging about how much your daughter loves to eat carrots and cabbage.
The second physical benefit is the immune boosting aspect of gardening. We know you want to keep every surface in your home clean. We know you constantly tell your child to take their hand out of their mouth. But children do need to be exposed to bacteria, it reduces their susceptibility to allergies, autoimmune conditions, and other illnesses. Being outside in the dirt and around plants exposes them in a very safe way.
And finally the third physical benefit. This benefit is simply the fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity that are part of gardening. Digging to plant a seed and pushing a wheelbarrow full of compost can be tiring and physically exerting. These activities can also assist in developing gross motor skills.
8. Stress Relieving
This may sound ridiculous but children do stress. In fact, some children are simply prone to stressing about anything. They constantly worry. For these children, gardening is a proven stress releaser.
Even though you may garden with your child, they will be kneeling alone in the dirt and have the chance to breathe in the air around them and relax. And the real benefit is that the stress relief does not stop when the gardening stops. Studies have found that gardening reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone, and the effects of it last.
This ability to utilize gardening as a stress reducing activity will stay with your child into adulthood, providing them with the comfort that they will always have a place that they can be alone, think, and relax.
9. Math Skill Development
No one likes math. This is not a fact but it is probably true. Unfortunately, math is necessary to learn and it is great for children’s brain development. Creating a children’s garden can be a fun way to introduce math into your child’s life.
You can use math to measure soil depth. You can use it to count seeds. You can use it to estimate how big plants will get. You can create long-term math projects, such as drawing a graph of a plant’s growth across its lifespan. For children of any age, there is some math lesson that can be applied to gardening. It might even improve your math skills in the process!
10. Confidence Building
Most children view gardening as a grownup activity. At first, it may seem like too much of a task for them to handle. This is why there can be so much beauty created when a child is encouraged to garden. By accomplishing something so monumental, their confidence will be significantly boosted. They have the ability to grow food that they can eat, give to others, and even sell to make money. The concept can be incredibly powerful.
11. Creates Bonds
We all have busy lives. We go to work. Our children go to school. And then, of course, we have to get sleep. That takes up about 99% of our lives. But there is that extra 1% and we need to make sure to use it wisely.
Gardening can be this 1%. You can do it with your children. In fact, your entire family can do it together. Creating and planning a children’s garden is definitely something everyone can get involved with. It can be that half an hour you all spend together before you have to clean the house, do homework, and run errands. On rainy days, you can plan the garden out and decide what you want to grow. When the garden blooms, you can use the vegetables to make dinner together. This is a tradition that can continue for many years and something that your children can do with their children one day.
Gardening is a unique experience. Knowing that you can share these experiences with your children is a memory that will last a lifetime. These benefits of creating a children’s garden will help to reach people of every age, young and old, and will keep you on your toes. Now that the weather is finally warming up, you can get outside and create your own children’s garden and grow amazing memories.