The Benefits of Gardening With Kids
If you have a fussy eater there’s no doubt someone has suggested gardening with your kids to help solve the issues. But why is this a good idea and is it worth the effort? I have been thinking about this a lot lately. We live in an apartment, and while Harry does get outside to play at a park for many hours each day I often feel he misses out on the hands on experience that being in your own garden has to offer. Mr Fothegills recently sent us little packets of seeds and kids gardening kits to try, and this has really inspired me to do a bit more ‘gardening’ with Harry.
It doesn’t matter if you have acres of land, a suburban yard or a small balcony. Hey, you can even watch things grow on a sunny windowsill, and everyone will have one of those.
Why Gardening With Kids Can Help Fussy Eaters:
There are many ways to provide an opportunity to learn about nutrition through a hands-on connection to the food we eat. Kids are naturally curious about the world around them and often find great joy in helping with activities outside.
- Children take pride in things they make themselves. They will be bursting to try the fresh herbs they helped grow on your Friday homemade pizzas. Sometimes this can be the start of a love of all things green.
- If children choose the ingredient or even better grow it, they will be more inclined to try it when it comes to the eating part. Tasting the pumpkin they grew or chose themselves is a non-confronting way of introducing new foods and particularly veggies.
- Education and understanding is a powerful persuader. When children interact with and understand the food they eat (and see the time and effort involved) they are often happier to eat it compared to when it just turns up as a new food on the plate.
- Developing a love of nature can impact the way children view the world around them and the food they eat. They can learn to enjoy natural foods and see the benefits they provide to their lives.
The benefits of gardening with children doesn’t stop with nutrition. The responsibility of nurturing a seed to grow, and the self confidence they gain from achieving something can play an important part in a child’s overall well being. Being physical, enjoying time outdoors and working together are all wonderful ways to enjoy time together as a family. The educational benefits are also worth mentioning, with many lessons to be learnt in a very interactive and informal way.
Activities To Try:
Working and playing in the garden should always be a safe activity for children. Be sure to take all safety precautions and not leave dangerous tools lying around for curious little hands. When handling soil and dirt always provide children with gardening gloves.
- Curious toddlers love to be given a simple task and follow instructions.
- Using a small spade to dig a hole and pour in some water.
- Filling up a watering can and helping to water the plants.
- Checking on seedlings every day and talking about how they are growing from small to big.
- Go on a butterfly hunt, catch a lizard and set it free again, collect stones of different sizes.
- Simple craft activities such as collages from garden collections.
- Grow some plants from seedlings. Use fast growing seeds so they don’t get disinterested in the process.
- Create an outdoor cubby house or teepee, use large autumn leaves or palm leaves to cover.
- Dry some flowers using a flower press or heavy book.
- Grow a ‘Mr grass head’ and let them cut the ‘hair’ into a funny style.
- Plant some herbs and use them in cooking.
- Replanting and potting small plants together.
- Slightly older children will enjoy planting and harvesting their own mini vegetable garden. Depending on your space try growing some simple vegetables and choose a recipe together to use them in.
- Give children the freedom to choose their own flowers to grow, develop charts as a reminder for watering and pruning, another great way to teach responsibility.
- Give children a sensory experience, grow fragrant flowers, edible plants, and interesting succulents.
- Grow a healing plant such as aloe vera and show/explain the medicinal benefits of the plant.
- Develop recipes using herbs/vegetables in the garden and experiment together in the kitchen.
Children who learn to appreciate the garden and growing of food will grow up with a respect for nature and hopefully an understanding of fresh food and nutrition.
To make the garden safe for children:
- Choose safe tools depending on the age of children.
- Keep all chemicals and sprays out of reach – even better – don’t use them, keep your garden organic.
- Ensure all your boundary and pool fences are secure so children can roam around freely and safely.
- Wear sun protection and try and work in the shade.
- Don’t leave buckets or pools of water unattended.
We were not paid by Mr Fothergill’s to write this post, they sent us some little gardening kits to try and we were inspired. Check out their kids page for some great gardening activities for kids.Join us on Facebook for other foodie bits and pieces.