Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid gardener. You will not find me spending hours at the bar or glued to the television. Instead, you can always find me pottering around the garden pruning things, watering things, moving things, and generally making sure that my outdoor oasis is thriving.
In all my years of gardening, one thing I have noticed is how easily kids take to it and that’s great because the many benefits of gardening for kids are undeniable. And today, we’ll go through 18 of them.
Wow, wait, 18?… Yep, it seems like children can learn quite a lot from gardening, doesn’t it? The reality is that they can! Want to find out how gardening can benefit children in different ways? Read on.
Whether your child is 3 years old, 13 years old, or even older, there is real value in introducing him/her to gardening. And once you do, you never know what could come of it – possibly a career even! Below are many details on how gardening is beneficial to children and why you should include your kids on your next gardening day.
18 ways gardening is beneficial to children. Gardening:
1. Provides exercise.
Gardening will have kids moving around quite a lot. There is shoveling to do, weeds to pull out, wheelbarrows to load and unload, carrying to do – the list goes on. If you are struggling to get your child interested in doing any kind of physical sport, you could get them to benefit from the physical aspects of gardening tasks!
2. Develops an interest in healthy eating.
Have you been struggling to encourage your kids to eat fresh fruit and vegetables? Here is a tip: involve them in the growing of fruit and veggies. Children tend to be more interested in eating fruit and vegetables that they have grown themselves. Imagine making an entire salad with fresh veggies that you grew in your own garden. It is just as exciting for you as it is for kids, isn’t it?
3. Teaches responsibility.
When you include kids in gardening, you need to give them tasks to carry out on a daily or weekly basis. If kids start to slack off, they will notice the negative impact on their plants. Learning to be responsible is thus easy in this type of scenario.
4. Develops reading, writing, science, and arithmetic skills.
You can use gardening to help kids develop better reading, writing, and basic arithmetic and science skills. Kids can read the planting instructions on seed packets and write the names of plants on seedling tags. They can also be involved in counting seeds and petals.
5. Promotes self-confidence.
Nothing is more of a confidence boost than seeing your efforts create something amazing. When kids are involved in gardening, they will get to see how their hard work pays off with thriving, flourishing plants. This sense of achievement is great for boosting self-confidence.
6. Provides a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
Did you know that you do not have to give your children vitamin D supplements? They can get all the vitamin D they need by spending approximately half an hour in the sunshine!
7. Develops fine motor skills.
While picking things up, moving plants around, and lifting things, kid’s muscles are engaged fully. This is excellent for improving fine motor skills and developing strength.
8. Teaches an important life skill.
Learning to tend a garden is not just a hobby that some people start. It is an actual life skill. Once your kids know how to garden, they can tend their own garden, use their skills to increase the value of their property (in the future), enjoy a relaxing hobby for life, or even follow a career in a related industry/market.
9. Promotes respect for nature & the environment.
Kids do not often understand the importance of looking after nature and the environment because it is not specifically taught. By gardening with children, you can teach them how everything in nature is interconnected and how our actions can have a positive or negative impact on the planet. You can teach them that bees pollinate flowers, insects provide food for birds, worms aerate the soil, and of course, you can teach them what their role in the entire process, as a guardian of their own eco-system (aka the home garden), is.
10. Keeps kids away from screens & the “wrong crowd”.
Kids, nowadays, tend to spend a lot of time in front of the screen, whether it’s the TV, their phones, tablets, … you name it! And when they are not using any of these devices, they may be out there, getting involved with the wrong crowd. How do you deter this? Instill active interests in other hobbies to get them away from all sorts of gadgets and also to develop a keen interest in healthy activities. The more active your kids are and the more occupied they are, the less time and interest they will have for problematic behavior and activities.
11. Improves organizational and planning skills.
When gardening with kids, you can teach them how to plan and organize effectively. Give them a selection of plants and an empty garden bed and help them to plan a design that looks good and is logical too. This promotes confidence in their own planning and organizing skills. The more practice kids have at this type of thing, the more advanced their organizational and planning skills will be as they grow older.
12. Boosts cognitive development.
Cognitive development is all about developing skills for intelligent thinking. Gardening helps children develop cognitively as it requires them to remember information, ask and answer questions, and analyze data. You can help boost cognitive development by asking children to list things they have done, ask them what to do next, consult with them on the correct ways to prepare soil and water plants, and so on.
13. Develops a keen interest in plants, insects, as well as birdlife.
If kids are never exposed to nature, they will not pay much attention to the plants, insects, and birdlife around them. In fact, they may even take it all for granted. When young children get interested in gardening, they are exposed to insects and birds in the garden as well as a wide variety of species of plants. You can help them develop a keen interest or curiosity by telling them about each species and by making the learning process fun/interesting.
14. Promotes bonding and friendship.
Some parents find it hard to bond with their children on a friendship or emotional level. As children grow older, they naturally develop a differentiation between parents and friends. If you want to bond with your child and form a friendship, you need to get involved in activities that are fun for both of you. Gardening is a great way to do something with your child instead of always being just “mom” or “dad” providing meals and stipulating rules.
15. Encourages creative thinking.
Gardens are great places for a bit of creativity. You can pair certain species of plants together to create wonderful patterns, and you can even experiment with different color combinations. Encourage your child to participate in the design of garden beds and the placement of flowers. If you are worried that it could go wrong, offer options for him/her to select from, that actually suit your intentions. This way, the child can start thinking creatively with a bit of logical guidance.
16. Enhances sensory development.
Children need to learn about how the senses work. When in the garden, you can teach children about texture, smell, sound, and color, as well as wet and dry. Being out in the garden engages all of the senses.
17. Provides stress relief.
Children feel an immense amount of stress, anxiety, and frustration as they grow and develop. Stress is something that is difficult for children to understand, yet they still need a release just as much as adults do. As gardening provides an escape from the regular worries of the day, it is a great way to relax, unwind, and let go of the stress.
18. Teaches the importance of consistency.
A garden cannot tend itself. While children will need to be responsible for their gardens, they also need to learn to be consistent. Some tasks will need to be done over and over again on a daily basis. Some tasks will be more fun than others, but it is essential to be consistent regardless. While learning to garden, children learn that being consistent is vital to tending a flourishing garden.