Tips for Gardening with Children
Creating a garden is a wonderful way to involve your whole family in a healthy, enjoyable hobby. Gardening has been shown to have many physical and mental health benefits for both children and adults that are supported by research. Children will not only enjoy spending time with the special adults in their lives, but reap the lifelong benefits of exposure to healthy foods, moderate physical activity and positive social interactions while gardening. Additional benefits children gain by participating in gardening include:
- Improved attitude toward, interest in, and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Enhanced understanding of nutrition and likelihood to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives, leading to the prevention or delay of chronic diseases.
- Increased environmental stewardship with a greater appreciation for natural areas and gardens into adulthood.
- Strengthened life skills, including increased self-efficacy (confidence in controlling their own motivation and behavior) and self-understanding (gaining insight into their attitudes, reactions and strengths).
- Development of positive social and interpersonal skills by working as part of a team (shown in a school garden setting).
- Improved attitude toward education and enjoyment of learning (shown in a school garden setting).
Adults will benefit too. Research shows regular involvement in gardening increases feelings of contentment and relaxation, an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and an increase in overall levels of physical activity.
Tips for gardening with children:
- Choose fruits, vegetables and flowers that are easy to plant, grow, harvest and eat. Some to include are strawberries, radishes, cherry tomatoes and sunflowers. Look for advice from your local nursery, a good gardening book or check the back of seed packets to learn more about the best choices for your family.
- Make involvement easier for kids with child-sized tools, narrow beds so they can easily reach and clear walking paths so plants aren’t stepped on. Container gardening is a great option if you live in an apartment or don’t have much
- Take safety into consideration by making sure children do not use sharp tools and that you select non-poisonous plants and flowers. Avoid using sprays or chemicals children may come into contact with in your family garden. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and a hat when heading outside.
- Dress your child in clothes and shoes that are okay for dirt and mud.
- Set aside a small portion of the garden or flower bed that is just for kids to experiment, dig and play. This allows them to have a spot for creativity without ruining any work in the main garden. This is also a place where they can play while you continue to work in the garden if they have lost interest.
- Pay it forward by donating any extra fresh produce you have to your local food pantry. Your child will gain a valuable lesson about helping others in
The National Gardening Association: http://www.kidsgardening.org/node/13152
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center: http://www.colorado.edu/cye/sites/default/files/attached-files/Gardening_factsheet_2011.pdf
Garden Organic and Sustain: http://www.sustainweb.org/resources/files/reports/GrowingHealth_BenefitsReport.pdf