Children are natural gardeners. They’re curious, like to learn by doing and love to play in the dirt. Working in a garden a child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life firsthand.
Gardening gives children a chance to learn an important life skill, one that is overlooked in standard school curriculums. Gardening is also a great way to teach environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature.
If possible, let them have their own garden beds. Whether you use raised beds, containers or ground plots, be sure to give each child their own separate plot. Keep it small, very small for young kids. Put their plots right in the middle of the action, with the best soil and light and set them up for success.
Reuse the sandbox. If your children have grown past their sandbox years, consider converting the old sandbox to a garden bed. This gives them continued “ownership” of a familiar space and encourages a sense of responsibility to the gardening project.
Engage them through the entire process, from seed to table. Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. They will learn that gardening can be fun, but far more than idle play; they are contributing to the family well-being.
Start from seeds. While it’s a convenient shortcut to buy starters, children will learn more by seeing the growing process as it begins from seed. The care given to sprouting seeds and nurturing the young seedling are a valuable part of the gardening experience.
- Plan what week you want to start and when you’ll end. Look to this great guide for the basics.
- Make a list of the things you will need to keep your garden manageable.
- Keep a garden journal to allow them to keep up with what’s happening in their garden.
- Know that you can tell a seed very well by its package.
- Know the tools of the trade – the tools you’ll need to garden.
Check out this website for a more detailed list of what to do and expect before starting your garden! For a guide to what types of vegetables or flowers to plant, check this link out – it gives a very helpful guide for 15 vegetables and 20 flowers down to history of the organism, to the best time of year to plant it, spacing and depth, special care and even harvesting!