Gardening is a wonderful learning opportunity for children, but it can also serve many other purposes. Planting and tending to a garden is an awesome way to spend quality time together as a family, it can be a great workout that gets you and your kids away from the TV and laptop and it will very likely get your kids more interested in eating their veggies. But it can also be quite a tedious and laborious task, especially for young children with short attention spans. So how can you get and keep your kids out in the garden? Read on for our tips.
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Let them choose. Whether it's flowers or veggies you're planting, take your kids to the garden center with you and let them choose some of the items you'll plant. You don't have to give them free reign--you can select two or three options that you're okay with and let them choose something from those options, but by getting them involved in the process, you'll build their interest from the start making them more likely to be invested in the project.
Buy them their own supplies. Purchase age/size appropriate garden tools for your child. They'll think of it as a present and be super-excited to use it. Plus, you'll avoid a battle of the wills when you actually need to use your gloves and shovel and they are insisting that they still need it too. It'll also be easier for children to use items that are sized correctly for them and help to avoid frustrations caused by an inability to manage a particular tool that is too big or too heavy for smaller hands.
Give them responsibilities. Once the planting is done, try assigning a responsibility to each child. Perhaps checking the soil daily for dryness, watering, or locating ripe veggies and plucking them. Even young toddlers can complete their own tasks with adult supervision. A little bit of responsibility will help your child take ownership of the garden and encourage her to stay involved. Be sure to explain how important her role is in the success of your garden.
Follow through. If you've planted produce, make sure to have your kids help you prepare some meals with it. It is truly amazing for an adult to see a tiny seed they've planted and nurtured turn into dinner. Can you imagine how cool that would be for a child? You'll be teaching your child to see their endeavors all the way through to the end as well as teaching them where the food they eat comes from and all the effort it takes to produce it, making them much more likely to enjoy and appreciate it.
Look into community gardens. If you don't have the space at home, or feel that your kids will need a bit more motivation to get into gardening, try finding a community garden at a local park that you can join. Not only is there a fun social aspect to community gardening, but you can reward your kids' efforts with a trip to the playground afterwards. If you find a community garden, but it's not in a park, consider joining anyway--you can incorporate a bike ride or a picnic into your gardening trips, which will also make them tons of fun for your kids.
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Have you tried gardening with your children?