Gardening With Your Children

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Spring has arrived. For many families that means tilling up the space for your garden and dreaming of the fresh vegetables to come. Gardening provides the opportunity for exercise, enjoying fresh produce, and hands-on learning. This opportunity should not be just for adults. This is a great activity to involve children in. There are multiple ways to engage children in gardening such as planning, planting, maintaining the garden, and harvesting.

Children can have fun gardening and being outdoors. It is a great learning experience as well. They can learn responsibility from having to care for the plants. You can help them to identify what the plants need, such as sunlight, nutrients, and water. This understanding can help them to think through cause and effect. For example, if a plant does not get water then it will die. You can help develop the child’s problem-solving skills by not giving them the answers, but giving them the pieces to work through the problem to find the solution on their own. The sense of responsibility and problem-solving skills will increase the child’s self-confidence as well. Along with these personal development benefits, gardening can develop the child’s interest in the environment, nutrition, and agriculture.

As you can see there are many benefits to children being involved in gardening. Gardening will likely leave a lasting impression on children. I can recall my family gardening throughout my childhood growing up. The fun times of planting and harvesting were joined with the not so fun times of weeding on the hot July afternoons. Growing up gardening has given me a passion for gardening, eating fresh produce, and supporting locally grown foods. You may be asking, how do I get my child interested in gardening?

First of all your garden may vary depending on where you live, how much land you have, and the amount of time you can invest in it. Here are some suggestions to get you started. First, keep it simple. If they can understand what they need to do and have fun doing it, their interest will likely last. Second, give your child their own space in the garden. It can be a small space. Allowing them to choose what to plant then care for it will develop responsibility and a sense of ownership.

sunflowers

“Incorporating sunflowers and other interesting plants into your garden may capture the interest of your children

Also growing some interesting plants such as sunflowers, pumpkins, and corn will be fun and intriguing for your children. One last suggestion would be let your children make their own scarecrow. They have likely seen a scarecrow in children’s books or movies so being able to make their own may be a fun activity. There are many more ways to get children gardening so if you have another idea give it a try.

When gardening with your children don’t forget to make the garden safe for children. Invest in some correct-sized gardening tools for your child. Keep sprayers, fertilizers, or any chemicals you use out of reach of children. Have children use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and take regular rest times. There may be other precautions necessary depending on the age of your children. Gardening can be fun, just make sure it is safe and fun.

So as you feel the warmer weather and longer days arriving, get some seeds and head to the backyard with your kids or grandkids to start your garden. Learn new skills and have fun while growing your own food. If you have any questions or need more information about starting your garden and getting children involved, you can contact the Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Office at 828-757-1290 or https://caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu/.