If your child shows an interest in gardening, you should encourage the interest as gardening is a healthy activity in many regards. Gardening will help prepare and encourage your child to eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Gardening will teach your child a great deal about science and living things. Gardening will teach your child maturity and responsibility and finally, gardening will give you an opportunity to work together on a project – an excellent way to spend time together.
Growing the Food You Eat
There is no better motivator for good nutrition than to grow the food you eat. When you grow your own vegetables, you know you are getting food free from chemicals and pesticides. You also know that your child has watched those tomatoes grow over time with great fascination. Placing some slices from the tomato on his plate will simply be the final step in the growth process.
Gardening and Science
The Earth is bursting with things to learn and starting a garden, no matter what type, is the perfect way to show your child so much of what is around us. Plant a vegetable garden and teach your child how to prepare the soil, plant seeds, weed, water and then care for the plants as they grow. Watch the life cycle of the plant as it appears from the tiny seed, grows, produces fruit, drops the fruit and seeds and then withers away leaving only seeds behind to start a new generation of plants. This can be seen in a flowering garden as well.
The garden can also teach your child about the seasons if you plant certain types of plants and flowers that can be grown only certain times of the year or used for special occasions, such as pumpkins or fir trees. A butterfly garden can introduce your child to caterpillars, their pupas and then butterflies as they come out to water and observe every day. There is almost no end to the lessons that can be learned from digging in the dirt.
There is a great deal of responsibility to be learned from gardening as well. If your child is begging for a chance to start a garden, encourage him to do so, but stress the importance of his care for the fledgling plants. Include him in every step of the garden – clearing the land, removing rocks and weeds, fertilizing the soil, selecting starter plants or seeds, watering and caring for the plants and every other responsibility that comes with a garden.
If a full plot of a garden is too much for your child to handle, you might start with a smaller option instead. Invest in a series of clay pots and plant small plants in each. These will be easier to water and care for and the time to get started is much less. These plants can be grown on a patio or even in the kitchen if light conditions are right.
As children age, there are seemingly a million things that come between you and your little one. Friends, school. iPod ear buds and mobile phones all come into relationships between parents and children making it hard to actually sit down and be together, much less talk to each other about pressing issues. When outside in the garden, make it a point to work together without electronics. Even if you meet for a weeding and watering session a few times a week, you’ll be amazed at how much information you learn about your child and who’s she’s becoming.