Gardening is an excellent way to spend quality time with children. Without them realizing that they are actually learning something, you can teach them small lessons about life, the workings of nature, and the value of protecting our environment.
In these days when family activities tend to cost too much money to do very often, why not opt for a little free, old-fashioned family fun. Any child expressing an interest in gardening should be fully encouraged. Don’t wait for them to ask you if they can participate. If you look up from your garden puttering, and see a pair of young eyes looking on inquisitively, invite them to join you! Never order them to help in the garden. It then becomes a chore… WORK!
Once gardening becomes classified as work, they may never again be able to look at gardening as enjoyable. Let them know, and see that you enjoy this form of recreation. Present gardening to your child as part science, part art, and part play. Allow them to use their imagination, and their creativity will flourish. Children love learning and discovering things for themselves.
Remember… a child’s attention span is short. Find simple tasks for them, which they can successfully accomplish in a short period of time. If they decide that it is time to take a break, and play with a bug for a while, let them, they will get back to their gardening soon enough. Children seem to have an unending source of energy, and have a need to stay busy, but they will get bored if they do the same thing for too long. Make sure that you have lots of options available for them, so that when the boredom does set in, they can easily move on to their next project.
These small successes will show your child that they too, can do ‘big people’ things, and do them very well! Let them know what a ‘big help’ they have been to you. This will bring about increased self-esteem, as well as having them eager to help you the next time.
Adult sized tools are burdensome for a small child to use, and using your garden trowel, to do the work you are doing with a full-sized shovel, just doesn’t seem the same to a child. For about the same price that you will pay for your new rake, you can purchase a full set of kid sized, functional gardening tools. This may be the perfect reward, to show them how much you appreciate all of the help they have been….
There are dozens of things that these little people can do to help you out, as you are doing your chores. With your guidance, this ongoing, ‘hands on’ participation becomes the best teacher of all. A child will soon learn that successful gardening is the result of a combination of many different, small steps. As you begin, keep in mind that a picture is worth a thousand words.
By showing a child how to do something, they are better able to understand the ‘how and why’ of what you are doing, and remember!. Keep your explanations simple, but DO try to explain why you do what you are doing.
Read Moore: the garden helper