Have you ever tried gar­den­ing with chil­dren? If you have not, you cer­tain­ly should! Plant­i­ng and cul­ti­vat­ing a gar­den with the chil­dren in your care is a fun and engag­ing activ­i­ty. Gar­den­ing with chil­dren pro­motes their under­stand­ing of sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts and encour­ages them to devel­op healthy eat­ing habits. Children’s social-emo­tion­al devel­op­ment is nur­tured while gar­den­ing, as they learn to have patience and a sense of respon­si­bil­i­ty. Addi­tion­al­ly, gar­den­ing with chil­dren pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to strength­en rela­tion­ships between chil­dren, their teach­ers, and parents. 

In this blog we will discuss: 

  • Indoor and Out­door gar­den­ing ideas 
  • How to pro­mote children’s engage­ment in gar­den­ing activities
  • Skills chil­dren devel­op through gardening
  • Oth­er ben­e­fits of gar­den­ing with children

Indoor and Outdoor Gardening Ideas

Gar­den­ing with chil­dren can take place indoors or out­doors. Plan and design a gar­den that best suits your avail­able space. Plants can grow in a vari­ety of setups. For example: 

Out­door Con­tain­er Gar­dens: Use large, 5‑gallon pots and buck­ets to cre­ate an afford­able, portable gar­den. Use pot­ting soil and ensure the con­tain­ers have drainage holes. 

Raised Beds: Raised beds involve grow­ing plants in a bed of soil that is ele­vat­ed. A frame or edge—usually made of wood, stone, or plastic—surrounds the bed to con­tain the soil. Ben­e­fits of raised beds include improved drainage, mois­ture bal­ance, and pro­tec­tion from pests such as snails and slugs. More­over, raised beds can pro­tect more del­i­cate plants from active tod­dler and preschool­er play. 

Indoor Win­dow Sill and Con­tain­er gar­dens: You can plant shal­low-root­ed veg­eta­bles such as let­tuce, radish­es, spinach, and herbs indoors! Use any con­tain­er with drainage holes. Be sure to place a small hand tow­el or saucer under­neath the con­tain­er to catch drainage water. Remind chil­dren that seeds need water and sun­light to grow. Invite them to use a spray bot­tle to mist the soil, and to help place their pots by the window. 

Engaging Children in Gardening Activities

To max­i­mize children’s inter­est in your gar­den, include plants of var­i­ous col­ors, species, heights, tex­tures, and fra­grances. With­out a doubt- chil­dren enjoy col­or­ful and bright flow­ers like tulips, marigolds, and sun­flow­ers. Chil­dren are usu­al­ly drawn to veg­eta­bles that grow quick­ly, such as corn and pump­kins

It is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant for you to research the tox­i­c­i­ty of any plant you plan to have around chil­dren, and for you to pro­vide close super­vi­sion when young chil­dren han­dle seeds- as they can become a chok­ing hazard.

It is also very impor­tant to offer gar­den­ing activ­i­ties that are devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate to the age of each child. Infants, tod­dlers, and preschool­ers are at dif­fer­ent stages, and their abil­i­ty to par­tic­i­pate will vary. To facil­i­tate their learn­ing through­out the gar­den­ing process, ask chil­dren open-end­ed ques­tions. For instance:

•What veg­etable do you think this seed will turn into? 

•What is the dif­fer­ence between these plants?

•Why do you think it is impor­tant to remove the weeds?

•What do you think we should plant next?

With active super­vi­sion, most tod­dlers and preschool­ers can 

•water and har­vest plants;

•plant flow­ers, seedlings and seeds (with close supervision);

•dig in soil and spread mulch;

•fill pots and bags with soil;

•cre­ate art using nat­ur­al mate­ri­als from the garden;

•enjoy healthy meals and snacks made from the garden’s harvest.

Skill Development Through Gardening

Gar­den­ing with chil­dren can pro­mote their devel­op­ment and learn­ing in mul­ti­ple areas. Specifically: 

Self Con­fi­dence: Play­ing an active role in tend­ing to the gar­den can build children’s sense of self-con­fi­dence. Con­tribut­ing to a com­plex, long-term process like gar­den­ing can be empow­er­ing for young chil­dren, espe­cial­ly when they watch lit­tle seeds trans­form into healthy, thriv­ing, full-sized plants that they can eat! 

Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Patience: Grow­ing and car­ing for plants teach­es chil­dren respon­si­bil­i­ty and patience. It can take long stretch­es of time and effort before seeds start sprout­ing, bloom­ing, or ripen­ing. Because of this, chil­dren can learn that their work may not always result in imme­di­ate gratification. 

Nutri­tion­al Aware­ness: Gar­den­ing encour­ages chil­dren to try new and healthy foods. Stud­ies show that chil­dren involved in gar­den­ing are more like­ly to snack on fruits and vegetables.

Lan­guage and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: Learn­ing plant names and dis­cussing the grow­ing process can expand children’s vocab­u­lary and sup­port their lan­guage development.

Improved Focus and Mem­o­ry: Spend­ing time gar­den­ing has been found to reduce lack of focus and impul­siv­i­ty, and can improve children’s atten­tion spans.

Social Skills: Gar­den­ing helps pro­mote social skills because chil­dren per­form tasks togeth­er dur­ing the gar­den­ing process. Col­lab­o­ra­tion helps chil­dren learn how to nego­ti­ate, share knowl­edge and skills, and pos­i­tive­ly sup­port each other.

Image of adults and children looking at plants together

Celebrate Diversity through Gardening

Gar­den­ing with chil­dren can fos­ter their appre­ci­a­tion of diver­si­ty and pro­mote cul­tur­al aware­ness. Incor­po­rate diver­si­ty into your gar­den by con­sult­ing with and includ­ing children’s fam­i­ly mem­bers. For exam­ple, ask children’s fam­i­ly mem­bers the fol­low­ing questions:

•What plants do you grow in your gar­den (if you have one)?

•What sorts of plants, flow­ers, and veg­eta­bles would you like to see includ­ed in our garden?

•Are there any recipes you would like to share with us?

•Would you like to par­tic­i­pate in cre­at­ing and car­ing for our garden?

Additional Benefits of Gardening 

Anoth­er great ben­e­fit of gar­den­ing with chil­dren is stress relief. Gar­den­ing can relieve children’s stress by pro­vid­ing a place for them to relax, breathe fresh air, and have time to them­selves. This stress relief can pos­i­tive­ly impact their moods and psy­cho­log­i­cal well-being. Fur­ther­more, gar­den­ing can be a stress reliev­er for you too! 

Above all else, have fun and relax! There is more to gar­den­ing than water­ing, weed­ing, and plant­i­ng. Accept that chil­dren will plant too many bean seeds in one hole, step on and break plants, and eat crops before they ripen. That is all part of their learn­ing expe­ri­ence! When­ev­er you embrace all aspects of the gar­den­ing process it results in a joyous activ­i­ty for everyone. 

Want to Learn More?

Take our free course Play­ing Out­doors. For more tips and infor­ma­tion about how to get start­ed gar­den­ing with children. 

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800–685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!

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