Our society is dominated by screens, sounds, and digital distractions. Each year, it becomes increasingly more important to connect children directly with their food source and instill in them a love of nature. One effective way to do this is by involving kids in the vegetable garden.
Not only does gardening provide a hands-on learning experience, but it also encourages healthy eating habits and fosters a sense of responsibility and appreciation for the natural world. Let’s discuss the benefits and practical tips for getting children excited about gardening.
Get Your Kids in the Garden!
There are countless reasons to have homestead kids involved in the gardening process. Getting them outside and moving is a good enough reason in my book! Let’s touch on 6 of the best benefits of letting kids work in the garden.
Benefits of Kids in the Garden
1. Introduces the Idea of Stewardship
Stewardship and sustainability are two pillars of homesteading. Kids can learn to take care of the land that is entrusted to them (whether that is acres of land or some containers on a back patio) and to use that space to produce food.
2. Education & Experience
By involving kids in the vegetable garden, they are introduced to many scientific concepts. Children will learn about various aspects of plant life cycles, soil health, and the importance of water and sunlight. The garden becomes a living laboratory where children can witness firsthand how their efforts translate into food production.
3. Teaches Responsibility and Patience
Gardening isn’t a project with a quick turnaround time. It requires commitment and patience to see it through. Garden responsibilities like watering, weeding, and pest control teach kids about the importance of hard work & consistency. They learn to observe and react to changes in the garden, adapting their actions accordingly. Through gardening, children develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for their actions.
4. Improves Fine Motor Skills
When kids are in the garden, they practice fine motor control by placing seeds in the soil, scooping soil into pots and trays, pouring water, etc. This is especially important for younger children who haven’t fully developed their fine motor skills yet.
5. Connects Kids with Nature
Gardening promotes environmental consciousness, fostering a deep respect for the natural world and encouraging sustainable practices. Working with the soil, feeling the texture of plant leaves, and observing the growth of plants engage their senses and stimulate their curiosity.
6. Encourages Healthy Eating
Involving children in the process of growing vegetables creates an appreciation for fresh, nutritious foods. When kids actively participate in cultivating and harvesting produce, they are more likely to try different vegetables.
8 Tips for Involving Kids in the Garden
Getting kids excited about gardening may take a little time and effort. Do what you can to make the experience fun and rewarding for them so they don’t give up before they reach harvest time.
1. Give them their own space
Allocate a few containers or create a dedicated plot for the kids to grow in. This allows them to take full ownership of the space and it keeps your productive garden area a little safer.
2. Let them plant the seeds
Allow the kids to plant their own seeds. Don’t do this part for them. Placing the seeds in the soil themselves will help them to see where the fruits and vegetables start.
3. Allow room for mistakes / Be patient
Give them grace! It is so easy to become frustrated and annoyed when your gardening projects are slowed down, but remember that teaching your children is the number one goal. They will make mistakes and they won’t be very efficient at first, but they will get better each season because you will show them how it’s done.
5. Let them plan and keep garden records
Let children have a say in deciding the types of vegetables to grow, planning the garden layout, making simple decisions, and keeping garden records. This will empower and encourage them to continue gardening next season.
6. Choose fast-growing plants
Yes, we want kids to learn patience, but we also don’t want them to burn out when they are just getting interested in gardening. Start with a few fast-growing plants like cherry tomatoes, radishes, or greens for quick results. Then they can try adding in more plants as they learn & grow.
7. Offer kid-friendly garden tools
Small kids have small hands. They won’t be able to use full-sized tools the way that you can. Provide kid-sized tools that they can handle well. Make sure that you don’t buy tools that are meant to be toys only. Purchase kids’ garden tools that are made of quality material and are actually functional.
8. Let kids in the garden harvest what they grow
They planted the seeds, watered, provided weed & pest control, and watched their plants grow… Now it is time to allow them to harvest the veggies that they nurtured. Make sure that they understand the vegetables that they harvest came from the seeds that they planted earlier in the season.
9. Guide them in DIY garden projects
Give them DIY projects to complete for their garden area! They can make planting containers, compost bins, honeybee water stations, and so many other interesting and functional pieces to make their garden feel a bit more fun.
Do your kids enjoy gardening?