The spring has sprung, and it’s the time of year when we want to be outdoors with the kids and get them involved in all things bright and beautiful. One of the best ways to do this is to get them in the garden. Gardening at any age is cathartic, but when we get the kids involved at a young age, we instill in them skills for life, which will grow the more we foster them.
I think some of my fondest childhood memories are in the garden with my grandad, learning how to plant and grow a garden. I watch my three-year-old pottering in the garden with my mum with such enthusiasm that it just makes my heart melt. Our kids don’t need all the fancy gizmos and gadgets to keep them entertained. It is the simple things that will stick with them forever.
Getting kids involved in gardening does more than teaching them how things grow or when flowers bloom. It gives them the knowledge to grow their own food; it also teaches them biology and ecosystems. So how do we get kids interested in gardening? It’s not as complicated as you might think, and the younger you start, the better.
Make it fun
Make gardening fun for the kids. It’s not just about digging holes and planting bulbs. Look at how the worms and the bugs behave in the soil. Why are they doing that? How does it help their plants to grow? Creepy crawlies might be icky to us adults, but they are fun and fascinating to the kids.
Make it colorful
Melt together gardening and arts and crafts. Draw out a plan of how the garden will look when it’s in bloom. Plant as many brightly colored bulbs as you can and see the kids look on in wonder as the garden blooms and matches the drawing. Or better yet, have them design the colors for their area of the garden. Creativity is fun, especially when combined with nature.
Make it bright
Why not try doing some plant pot painting with the kids for their bulbs and seeds to go into? This is great when combined with garden design as the kids get to go all out on designing a super kid-friendly garden that they will love to show off. For plant pot painting, you could use regular kids’ paints and do a drip technique, watch as all of the colors blend to create a kaleidoscope effect.
Create some habitats
Make a bug hotel, an ant farm, a hedgehog hotel and some bird nests. Bug hotels are great. They can be made out of all-natural things found in the garden, bracken, leaves, rocks and twigs. The bugs will gravitate towards it. Then the kids can look at all the life that lives in their garden. Birdhouses are another excellent way to get the kids involved in gardening. If they design their birdhouse, planters and flowers, their garden will be a mosaic of color and fun.
Get your kids some kid-sized garden tools. There are many stores online that provide kid-size wheelbarrows, forks, trowels and spades. Kid-sized tools will mean that they can help out more effectively without getting weighed down by adult-sized tools that are heavy and unmanageable. Their tools will make them want to take care of the garden without being asked as they will see it as a fun activity.
Their own patch
We touched on this under the design heading but giving the kids their own patch to work will serve many purposes. It will stop them from becoming overwhelmed with the size of the garden they have to take care of. Giving them their own patch also installs a sense of responsibility in the kids that this is theirs alone to take care of. Builds a sense of pride in the work they have accomplished. Gardening, unlike any other household activity or chore, builds to fruition. They can physically see the fruits of their labor bloom over time, which gives an enormous sense of pride. The feeling of I did that isn’t comparable to anything else.
We don’t need a garden
Even if you don’t have a garden, potted house plants are a good medium, and the kids enjoy planting, watering and tending them just as much. Chilies are great for growing indoors, a potted rose or house plant seedlings. You can even start with cress and work up to herbs. Gardening in any form is a brilliant activity to do with the kids, and I guarantee they will love seeing their work blossom into the end result.