Teaching kids how to grow their own food is rewarding and fun! Kids usually have no idea how food is grown. It's exciting for children to learn that potatoes come from the ground or that flowers can turn into fruit. Not only that but it also gives them the opportunity to contribute to the garden looking lovely too. Although, we have been looking at some outdoor furniture to make the garden look perfect! As with all things gardening, it takes intentional effort and planning. Here's some of our dos and don'ts for gardening with kids.
DO Have a general plan of how kids can help
Have an idea of what you want to accomplish and learn about during your time in the garden. It can be overwhelming if you have multiple kids all at once asking you what they can do to help when you're just trying to figure out what you want to do that day yourself. Just think about what you need to accomplish that day and how they can help. If a visual helps, make a list.
DON'T Be rigid about your plan
If the time in the garden doesn't go as planned, don't sweat it. Sometimes a butterfly, bird, rabbit or squirrel can take your attention away, and that's ok! The garden should be a place of work but also enjoyment, especially when you get to share it with the kids in your life. Have fun!
DO Explain tasks thoroughlyTypically, everything about gardening is new to kids so don't assume that they know the difference between a weed and a flower or know how much water to give a plant. The purpose of gardening with children is to show them how to grow plants for themselves and to enjoy time with each other. When explaining how to do something, have them repeat it back to you so you'll know they understand or do the task together the first few times.
DO Give specific responsibilities
It's so neat when kids get to do something independently. What I mean is that you can show them how to plant a seed, then give them the responsibility of seeding a whole area themselves. They will get to feel a sense of responsibility and accomplishment when they can complete that task themselves.
DON'T Leave young kids unsupervisedThis one is simple, the garden typically has some pretty intense tools and some that could potentially be pretty harmful. Young kids don't know not to eat fertilizer or play swords with your potting tools. Show them how to use garden equipment and materials. It will give them a purpose and confidence in how to handle themselves in the garden. Once you are done with the tools, be sure to keep them in a safe place, away from the kids. If you don't have a shed, don't worry. The use of storage units could work just as well. If this is something that interests you, do some research into companies like keepsafestorage to get this sorted and finally have a place to store your tools and equipment safely.
DON'T Let Them Do Dangerous Jobs
This may seem obvious but we want to make it clear. While you may want your kids to be involved with your garden, this doesn't mean they can do EVERYTHING. Letting them do hedge cutting or use a trimmer isn't going to end well so it's important that you keep everyone safe and be realistic about your kid's capabilities. It's the same with other jobs outdoors like cleaning windows that are a little higher up, or cleaning the gutters. This is certainly a job for an adult or even a professional (like those at Clean Pro Gutter Cleaning Lincoln), so its recommended you definitely don't let your kids do these tasks and stick to the things they can get stuck right into!
DO Speak positivelyAs with anyone, positive reinforcement goes a long way. The garden is a great way to teach success and failure. Some plants will thrive on neglect and others will not make it. Either way, it's all a learning curve and the journey of gardening is half the fun. There's no need to get upset when a flower gets pulled accidentally, just laugh it off and explain how to do better next time!
DO Follow up
Even if your kids don't help much in the garden, follow up with them later. Show them photos of how the garden looks now and how they helped it grow. If you sowed green beans with them, bring them some of the harvest. It will make their day!
Of course, gardening with GreenStalk Vertical Planters make it easy to divide up tasks with kids. Plus, you can have a full garden nearly anywhere!
What are your favorite activities in the garden to do with kids? Let us know in the comments below!