Introducing Children to the Joys of Gardening
Ideal activities for children should be ones that allow the child to learn, have fun and be active. Unfortunately, many of the activities that children enjoy, such as video games, take place indoors, are sedentary and solitary in nature. In an effort to reduce time spent on these types of activities, parents may look for something more stimulating for their children, such as gardening. Gardening may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it is something that a family can participate in together and can cause the child to develop a lifelong interest in nature.
When first starting a garden, it is important to begin in a way that will capture the child's interest and encourage the desire to continue gardening. Parents should choose an area to garden that has soil that is easy to dig into and is located in an area that is easy for the child to reach, like a narrow bed or even a garden box. Choose plants that are easy to grow and have the best chance of survival, and that will grow quickly enough to keep the child interested. Radishes and lettuce, for example, are a good choice for a child's first gardening effort.
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What Children Learn
Gardening is also an ideal educational tool that teaches children lessons that will last a lifetime. It teaches them responsibility, patience, and to appreciate nature and how things grow. For example, in order to successfully grow and maintain a garden, the child must behave responsibly. He or she will have not only to plant their garden, but will also need to ensure that the plants stay alive by watering them on a regular basis. An appreciation of nature is another benefit of gardening with children. While gardening they will come across insects in the soil and can learn what they are, what they do, and what effect they will have on their garden. By introducing a child to gardening, parents are also teaching them about the soil, and about what type of soil is needed to make certain types of plants grow. They are also learning what conditions, such as the required amount of sun and water, are needed to help seeds and seedlings grow. Lastly, children will learn the importance of patience as they wait for the results of their efforts to grow, bloom, or bear fruit.
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The most obvious benefit of gardening with a child is the time spent together. Families can learn to work together in creating something that the entire family can enjoy and even share with neighbors if plentiful enough. It is a low-cost activity that can be started with minimal expense. Children will have the benefit of eating fresh foods that they have grown with their own hands and it can even encourage them to eat their vegetables. In terms of health, it also is a way for children to be active outdoors and get exercise without conscious effort.