There are a few universal traits shared among all children: They are curious, they love to play in the dirt, and they love to do things you do, but in their own way. Gardening gives them an outlet for all three. With a little guidance and preparation from you, your children can develop a deeper understanding of nature and a love of gardening that can last a lifetime.
Positive reinforcement helps kids feel confident about learning, so give them early successes by having them plant easy edibles. Fast-growing plants such as radishes can grow in cooler weather and take only 30-60 days to mature. Spectacular plants, such as confectionary sunflowers, sprout in only 7 days and can reach 2 feet high in a month. Better yet, they produce delicious snack food that kids can be proud of growing. Looseleaf lettuce can be harvested when it?s only a few inches tall.
Help your children plant their own gardens right where you like to be. Kids with gardens off in a corner feel left out. Also, be sure to set up one garden per child to avoid conflict. Don?t be surprised if your children get distracted by interesting bugs or the occasional toad. Those encounters help them learn about the natural world and keep them curious.
When your kids have garden success, share in the enthusiasm. Take photos of their gardens and plants to send to relatives. Cook up little treats with the edible plants they?ve grown. Little things like that will build positive feelings associated with gardening.
Once your kids have gotten the gardening bug, there?s a lot more you can do with them to have fun. Pizza gardens are great for getting kids used to growing their own food. Growing enormous pumpkins is lots of fun, especially as they get bigger and bigger. Beautiful flowers are always popular with children, and they can grow their own special flower gardens of annuals or edible nasturtiums. The more you get your children involved in gardening, the more fun they?ll have.