Spring is finally here and the gardens will be all worked up soon. When you go in to the garden remember that having kids help in the garden can be a joyful time. Learning experiences for kids are endless in the garden. They learn about the basics of what it takes for vegetables or flowers to grow (seeds, rain, sun, and soil). They experience life as they see the first seed push through the soil. On the other hand, they can also experience death when there is a crop failure.
If we make helping in the garden fun, children will run outside to help.
1. Let them get in the garden and help you plant. The rows may be uneven and the lettuce may grow in big bunches, but really who will see it but you? It will still grow and they will be so proud of the work that they have achieved!
2. Tell them a story about gardening. Stories like "Jack and the Beanstalk" become really interesting to them once they have been in the garden. I remember my grandson wanted to grow a bean stalk that could reach to the sky. We had a great time imagining that we could do just that!
3. Keep them from the heat and the bugs. Go outside when it's cool in the evening but just before the mosquitoes come out. If you need to, make sure that you use sunblock and bug repellent.
4. Emphasize how fun it is to work in the garden. Tell them how you can't wait to get out in the garden to see what's growing today. Even getting them their own gardening tools may help. A positive approach will rub off on them.
5. Celebrate! Have a harvest dinner and serve fresh vegetables
from the garden. The carrots and green beans may just disappear off the plate. For dessert, serve the watermelon you just picked. It will be the best that they have ever tasted! All because they had a part in helping it grow.
6. Make a game out it. As you start to harvest, see who finds the longest green bean or the ripest, biggest, or ugliest tomato. You could even see who finds the most peppers. They giggle and will enjoy the time spent with you in the garden.
7. Start them enjoying the outdoors when they are young. Let the little ones touch the trees, smell the flowers, sit on the grass, and enjoy nature.
8. If all else fails give them an incentive! It can be a treat, money, or a rented movie. They will think that it's great to earn something extra and will hopefully start to find gardening fun as well.
An important note is to make sure that you limit their time in the garden. In other words, don't overwork them because that's not what this is about. It's about them spending a few moments with you in the garden and getting them interested in what you're doing. The joy of gardening that you imparted in them will be remembered throughout their lives. You may have even encouraged a lifelong love of gardening!
Here are a few more posts that you might enjoy if you would like to read more about our gardening adventures.
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