At Skippy’s, we never miss a chance to head out into the fresh air and do some gardening in our beautiful outdoor environments, and it’s something you can do together at home too!
We know that the best kind of activities for children are fun and engaging, while encouraging a child’s self-expression and natural curiosity. And what better way to do all of these things than gardening? Whether you are simply planting seeds in a flower pot, tending to a large outdoor garden or something in between like caring for a terrarium, gardening has many benefits for children.
Here are 10 of our favourites:
Gardening engages all of the senses
Squish your hands in the dirt. How does it feel? Let’s add some water. What does it look like now? How does that flower smell? We grew a vegetable... let’s eat it and see how it tastes! Hear that crunch when we bite into it? As you can see, it’s easy to incorporate sensory play into a gardening activity!
Gardening encourages healthy eating
Is your child a picky eater who turns their nose up at the sight of a vegetable? Try growing one from a seed. Your child will be so proud to have grown a food, they might become curious enough to taste-test the fruits of their labour. Encourage them to sample the vegetable straight off the vine or ask them to help you prepare it in the kitchen. It may become their new favourite!
Gardening enhances fine motor development
From picking up tiny seeds, to pulling weeds, and gently caring for your seedlings and plants, gardening encourages the development of fine motor skills every step of the way.
Gardening introduces kids to scientific concepts
What makes the leaves green? What do plants need to thrive? How much water does the plant need? Explore science together while gardening, and use their curious questions as an opportunity to research online and in books – once again proving that learning can be fun!
Gardening fosters family bonding
More hands make lighter work and although gardening can definitely be a lot of work, doing it together as a family makes it fun. It teaches children teamwork and collaboration. Consider a “pizza garden” -- one that grows ingredients each member of the family loves on their pizza, such as tomatoes for sauce, onions for mum and dad, and green peppers for the little ones. Harvest time equals pizza night!
Gardening teaches responsibility
Plants require a lot of care. Forgetting to water them could lead to the sad death of your plants. Not paying attention to whether your plant thrives in direct light or indirect light can also affect the health of your plant. Learning how to care for the plants properly is a great lesson in responsibility for kids.
Gardening helps children learn to plan and organise
Some plants grow better at certain times of the year. Others do well next to another specific plant. Some grow nicely in rows, while others like wildflower seeds can be sprinkled around. Gardening is an opportunity to chat with your kids about how to best help your garden grow through planning and organisation. Once planted, deciding who will care for the plants each day and when, is another opportunity to plan together.
Gardening creates environmental stewards
Once children see how much time and effort goes into gardening, they will likely become more empathetic towards those who help put food on our tables every day. Use this time to talk about the importance of local farmers and taking care of our planet by recycling and not littering.
Gardening develops maths skills
How many seeds can you plant in each row? How many seedlings can fit in each garden box? How much water does each potted planter need? Talk to your children about these concepts and help them work it out! Children learn by doing, and maths is a big part of gardening!
Gardening teaching patience
Growing from seed to producing plant can take weeks! Mark the days off on the calendar and count them. There’s no better teacher of patience than gardening, but it’s always worth the wait!
How can my Garden become a Classroom?
Any outdoor space that you have – be it a big backyard or an apartment balcony – is the perfect environment for learning.
Children are born curious. They love to learn about new concepts and approach the natural world with wonder and awe. Allowing them space in your home to garden, care for plants, learn about sustainability and take on new projects will both tap into this natural sense of wonder and instil in them the importance of caring for their environment. They will become so immersed in their project, and so full of spontaneous joy at creating and exploring, that their little minds will happily forge connections to extend their learning.
What are some Garden Projects I can do with my Child?
These ideas will depend, of course, on the age of your children, the amount of space you have and your budget.
Design and construct a garden with your children.
Research the best vegetables to grow in your climate, how to care for them and their seasonal growth patterns.
Grow vegetables that you can eat as a family.
Create a succulent garden.
Get creative with recycling! Re-purpose things like old plastic bottles to become hanging planters.
Learn about garden care. Allow children to become the gatekeepers against weeds and other elements that might threaten the garden.
Create a peaceful green space to encourage your children to spend time outdoors away from screens and connected to nature.
The possibilities are endless, so get out there and start!