5 ideas on Encouraging your Child to Help Plant a Garden
March 6, 2013 by Cristi
The sun is out and the weather is warming up! You know what that means right? It’s now time to think about starting some seeds indoors. So go pull the gardening tools out of the shed and put them to work. But they aren’t the only ones to be put to work- go grab some little helpers to help out as well! Gardening is a fantastic way to not only teach children about plants and vegetables but also a great opportunity to teach them about work and patience. It’s never too early to get them involved! I’ll share some tips I have found along the way.
1. Allow your child to explore the plants with all their senses.
Children who at an early age experience being outdoors in nature are more likely to enjoy being outside as adults- so start this love young! Children naturally are curious about their surroundings and wanting to use all their senses to experience the world. Allow them to be able to do so by taking them to your local botanical gardens, nurseries, or even the farmers market and allow them to just experience.
I brought my little guy with me to buy seeds and I just loved watching him explore all the plant life around him. Have you ever smelled Lemon Thyme? It’s divine! Soon enough, he was the one pointing out different plants and having me feel and smell them with him.
2. Involve your child in choosing what to grow in their garden.
This gets your child excited about the process and hopefully excited about trying new food they otherwise may not have wanted to try. I let them have a little area of their own for their own garden to feel ownership of their experience. You will get to see more of that when we are ready to plant outdoors.
Watch out! It’s so much fun… it is easy to go a little seed crazy. Make sure you throw some seeds that are fairly easy to plant and grow. This way I know the experience will be positive even if only one thing survived.
3. Find kid friendly tools and kits to experiment and get them excited about the experience.
I found some supplies for a dollar at Target that got my son so excited to help out and that is all he could talk about for the entire week. Again, it gives him a sense of ownership in the process and makes it even more exciting.
4. Involve them in the ENTIRE process- including the messy part.
This is the fun part! Allowing your child to feel and experience dirt between their fingers is a great sensory activity.
TIP: I suggest grabbing an old plastic container and mixing some Seed Starting Mix and allowing them to pour warm water a bit at a time.
Then, allow them to mix it with their hands…yes- their hands. Make sure their hands are clean first!
Get your hands in there with them! You want the mixture to feel moist all the way through but not dripping when you pick it up. It will feel light to the touch and sort of like a wrung out sponge.
We had so much fun it was hard to move on to actually planting the seed.
TIP: Make sure there is plenty of drainage. I know my son well and he loves to water. So, I poked holes in the box and set it in a plastic bin just in case.
TIP: I found that using a medicine dropper is a great way for young kids to help with watering without over watering. He also loves using his special spray bottle for misting.
5. Let go of perfection or any expectations.
This is not the time to be frustrated with your child if it is not done exactly how you would have done it. It may not look pretty and there may even be some seeds that don’t germinate, but you can always buy starters later if you have to! It’s way more about the experience you share with your child and creating a good attitude towards gardening. You can always find a lesson in every teaching moment. So, if things don’t work out- think of it as a great lesson on how things don’t always go the way you would like.
Okay we are all finished with the planting. TIP: Once you have put the seeds according to the directions (although with a three-year-old that may not have happened exactly) and labeled them- I like to use plastic wrap or a plastic top to help keep them warm and moist. Next, put it by a warm sunny window and watch what happens! When you see the first set of true leaves pop up- you can take off the plastic wrap. Make sure to be checking the soil every day to make sure it is damp or moist but not too wet or too dry.
Again, what a great lesson in teaching your child about patience. It can be hard to wait (even for adults!)…so, you’ll have to practice waiting with us for the results of our children’s garden in a future post!
For now, I want to know- what does your family like to plant in their garden?
You can find more ideas for kids from me at: weedstowishes.com