By Roger Peter
Submitted via our Submit An Article page.
My children enjoy working in the garden. They like to plant seeds and then watch them grow into sunflowers, tomatoes, peaches, and even pears. It is something they have grown up with. They watched their grandfather plant his vegetable garden and their grandmother her flowers and when they were old enough, they were allowed to help. They enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor and eating the delicious fruit grown on the trees on the family farm.
It’s important that children are allowed to help in the garden for a number of reasons and even the smallest child should be included. Younger children can help dig holes, place seeds in the ground, and then help cover them up. Older children can help fill a watering can and then gently sprinkle the newly planted seeds to help them begin to grow. Make sure you label what you just planted so you don’t forget what’s growing. Once your seeds start to sprout show your children how to weed around the plants. Explain to them that some plants don’t belong in a garden and that it’s important to remove them so their flowers grow up healthy and strong. Teach your children responsibility as they continue to care for their plants and flowers. Make sure they keep them watered.
Connecting With Nature
Second, children will learn to connect with nature. Even if you don’t have a large amount of space you can still plant lettuce and tomatoes in pots on your porch. Show them where food begins. Explain to them that when a farmer plants a seed, it produces many of the foods they eat. Every child should know that meat is not born from a container at the grocery store or that milk doesn’t come from a bottle on the shelf. This is especially important if you are living in an urban area that doesn’t contain a lot of green space.
Many types of garden plants and flowers will attract birds and butterflies to your garden. Hummingbirds are drawn to any type of tubular flower but especially those that are red in color. Monarch butterflies feed exclusively on milkweed so planting this is sure to attract them as they travel on their migratory path. Your local garden shop can certainly give advice on which native plants to plant in your area.
Learning about the Circle of Life
Children will also learn that life has a cycle. They will see that from seeds come flowers and that after those flowers bloom they will turn brown, wilt and then die. It’s a lesson we all learn in time but when you teach it with beautiful flowers, the lesson doesn’t seem quite so harsh.
A lot can be learned when you put a rake or a shovel in the hands of a child. Hand powered garden tools and supplies for children can be purchased at any hardware store.
There are so many more things that children can learn out of gardening. Like learning to protect nature, nurturing, appreciation for beauty and understanding of & respect for the circle of life. These important lessons cannot be learned by sitting in front of television or the computer. So if you have not already done so, take the initiative and start giving your children some handy gardening lessons.