One of the life skills that I am working to impart on my son is the knowledge of how to grow his own food. Not that he would necessarily ever have to, but he could if he wanted to, or he could choose to do so simply for his own enjoyment. In this article, I’ll outline 7 tips for how to start gardening with a child to help encourage interest and build upon childhood’s innate love of learning.
Start Now. Even if you are new to gardening, you don’t have to wait until planting season to begin involving your child in gardening. Have your child be a part of the planning process. Have your child research what grows best in your area with you. Go out on your property together and discuss where might be the best location to plant which plants and why. Draw up a diagram of what is going to go where. Get out the calendar and write down a plan of what to do and when. For example, if you are going to start some plants from seed, select when you should pot them so they will be ready in time to plant in the garden.
Make it Fun! The garden and pots can look pretty drab at first. Help bring a little color by adding a bit of whimsy to the garden through decorations. You can buy some at the store or better yet, make your own! You can create fun label markers for your plants, decorate your pots and create pet garden rocks. Better yet, ask your child how you should decorate the garden. You are sure to get some fun answers and it will help the child become even more engaged in the process.
Get the Right Sized Tools. Gardening is no fun if you are just a small child and trying to water your garden with a huge and heavy watering can. Get a small watering can and other child-sized hand tools as well as gloves to make the experience enjoyable for your child. Also, don’t forget the sunblock and a hat!
Designate One Garden Bed Just for Your Child. Let your child do whatever comes to the imagination in this particular garden bed. Let your child see first hand the results of what happens. As a parent, it is your job to let this bed belong completely to your child. That means you don’t even do any weeding. Whatever will be, will be!
Keep a Journal. Record the events of the garden daily. This will add even more to the educational benefit. If your child is old enough to do the writing, all the better. You might want to including things like: date, temperature, rainfall, how each seed/plant is performing, the height and length of the plants, what soil combinations seemed to work well and which didn’t, how often the garden needs to be weeded, watered and pruned.
Enjoy the Harvest! Use the yields of your garden to create family meals together. Your child will enjoy helping to prepare a meal using foods that came right from the family garden.
Share with Others! Have your child prepare and deliver little care packages to family and friends. For example, you might find cute little containers to deliver strawberries. You could also help your child set up and small fruit and vegetable stand to share with neighbors either for free or perhaps accept donations to raise money for your child’s favorite charity.
There you have it! Your garden doesn’t have to be ornate to get the job done. The most important thing is the time you spend working on it together with your child.
Got any tips or ideas to share? Let me know!