What Kids Can Learn from Gardening

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Gardening is a great way to get outdoor time with the whole family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a wealth of knowledge and learning opportunities to be found right in your own backyard.  Children can learn a variety of skills while having a ton of fun just growing things in a garden.  Gardening helps kids learn about math and science concepts in a way that builds both self-confidence and responsibility.  Gardening is also a great way to get some outdoor time with the whole family and what kid doesn’t love playing around in the dirt!

Skills Kids Gain

When you think about what kids gain from gardening, the most obvious is learning how to grow things, but this is just the beginning.    The act of caring for plants helps children learn responsibility.  In order to keep the plants alive, they need to be watered regularly, they need fertilizer or plant food, and they need the right amount of sunlight.  Making sure that the plants in the garden get enough of the things they need helps children practice being responsible.

Gardening also helps children understand the concept of cause and effect.  If a plant in the garden is watered, it grows; if it isn’t watered, it dies.  If the weeds in the garden are allowed to grow unfettered, they will overtake the plants and the plants will die.  Weeding the garden helps ensure that the plants can access the food, water, and sunlight they need to thrive.

Nurturing a plant from seed to harvest also helps children develop a sense of self-confidence.  They can see and even eat the literal fruits of their labor.  There is no better way to create a sense of a job well done than to help a child grow their favorite vegetable from seed to table.

Growing something themselves also helps children create an understanding of what goes into making the food that ends up on their dinner plate.   This connection provides other great learning opportunities on topics like nutrition and healthy eating.  Gardening can also help children learn about important scientific concepts like weather and agriculture.

How to Get Kids into Gardening

In today’s technology-filled world, it can be hard to convince children that going outside and getting a little dirty in the garden can be great fun.  Since you don’t want to force them to participate and risk turning them off entirely, you can try these suggestions to get your children out and into the garden.

  • Keep things simple and start small.  Kids don’t need to be involved in every gardening task or decision to get the benefits.
  • Stay age appropriate.  Younger children can help with planting seeds, pulling weeds, watering, and feeding.  Older children can help with everything from planning and designing the garden to harvesting and preserving.
  • Get them their own tools.  Make it easy and fun for children to help with gardening tasks by getting them gloves that fit their hands and tools that are suited to their size.
  • Give them their own space.  Whether its a few containers on the porch or a couple rows in the family garden bed, children will love having plants that are all their own.
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