Today on tiny & little we’re dipping into the archives to bring you an article by Caroline Roberts of Gardening 4 Kids, a business that encourages children to be outdoors having fun in the garden whilst learning about living a healthy and sustainable life. Caroline spoke with us about little ones getting involved in growing food and shared gardening with kids tips you can try at home, and our latest book review has inspired us to share this wonderful article again. Enjoy!
There are so many benefits of having children involved in gardening:
- It encourages children to think about the world about them – how does food end up on their plates and what are their responsibilities for caring for the environment?
- It teaches valuable life lessons such as responsibility and problem solving.
- It supports academic teaching across the school curriculum– science, literacy, numeracy, humanities etc.
- It encourages children to use their imagination and to take calculated risks.
- It has a calming effect on children and studies have shown that it can be beneficial for children with ADD and ADHD.
Gardening is a fantastic way to encourage children to be adventurous with the food they eat. I have seen very fussy eaters gobble up plates of salad and bowls of pasta simply because they have grown the vegies in them themselves. I think children take a real pride in their efforts in the garden and their curious nature makes them want to taste the produce that they have planted, nurtured and harvested. Recently I was talking to a mother at school where I work who said she had made spanakopita many times at home and her son would refuse eat it. However after helping grow silverbeet at school and making spanakopita as part of our kitchen garden program he is now eager to not only eat it but helps her make it too.
Gardening with children doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some tips to help get you started:
- Involve children in the decision making process when it comes to gardening.
- Give children their own space to grow their own plants and make it exciting, colourful and enticing.
- Give them their own gardening tools and products to encourage their sense of ownership.
- Ask them what they would like to grow. There are some wonderful varieties available that fascinate children – purple peas and carrots, rainbow silverbeet, moon and star watermelons etc.
If space is an issue, many plants can be grown in containers. Strawberries, herbs, lettuce, beans, and pak choy are just some varieties that can be grown in pots or planter boxes.
Gardening can even happen indoors. Sprouts can be grown in a jar on a window sill as can herbs in a small pot.
Large seeds are ideal for small children to grow – sunflower seeds, bulbs, peas and beans are the perfect size for little hands to hold.
I see positive outcomes all the time whilst gardening with kids. I enjoy watching children connect with nature and take responsibility for the environment. The thing I love most though is seeing how gardening can boost a child’s confidence and give them a real sense of purpose and pride – everyone has something that they can be an expert at in the garden whether it be planting, watering, caring for the chooks, turning the compost or maintaining the worm farm. Gardening is such a valuable activity to involve children in that will set them up with skills for life.
Thank you to Gardening 4 Kids for these great tips! Gardening 4 Kids have a blog with useful and fun ideas to support parents gardening with kids as well as an online store that sells quality fun and educational gardening products for children, which you can check out here.
Do you garden with your tiny and little ones? What’s their favourite thing to grow? Do you have a tip to share?