The idea of growing something to maturity may be something adults are used to, but for a child the idea of raising and growing something is new and fascinating. Getting your children outdoors to do a little gardening has many benefits and many more lessons to be learned by our little ones.
- Teach Patience- In our Little Sprouts Club, one of the things we mention is that gardening is all about the process not the product. Showing your child that food takes time to grow from a seed to something you would eat is getting them involved in the process from planting to harvesting.
- Grow Self Confidence- I don’t know about all of you, but I remember when one of my plants in my botany class grew past my expectations. I was so proud of myself. Growing something is not always easy and when they accomplish the task they will have a sense of achievement.
- Responsibility- Just like gardening grows confidence, it also teaches responsibility. Growing something takes time and effort to research what your plant will need. Growing a cactus is very different than growing a carrot. Having your child understand what a plant needs and how to care for something other than themselves will teach responsibility.
- Build Family Bonds- Gardening can get overwhelming when you are doing a large project by yourself, but making a family garden will make this much more enjoyable. There are many jobs when it comes to a successful garden: pulling, tilling, planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting are just the basics, but making it a family adventure will have you working as a team to have fun and to learn.
- Good Nutrition- By having a vegetable garden, you can peak your child’s curiosity of the natural world and how they encounter it on a daily basis by understanding their food. Not going to lie, I didn’t realize that one of my favorite foods (broccoli) was a flower. It wasn’t until I decided to grow it that it clicked in my head that we eat more than just the leaves and fruits of a plant.
Gardening is a great way to get children to be active and explore. With technology so present in the newest generations, it’s healthy to have a constant way of learning and playing in the outdoor world. So we know there are amazing behavioral lessons that gardening helps with, but there are health benefits too. Being outdoors has proven to help children with their ADHD symptoms not only temporarily but helping them in their day to day lives. Children who are outside more are less likely to have allergies and have a more active lifestyle.
Visit the Kidpsace Gardens to see how our plants grow at Harvest Corner and in our Little Sprouts Garden. If you have a child between the ages of 3-4yrs, join our 6-week Little Sprouts Club starting April 25, 2014.
Samantha Mendoza, Educator & Interim Outdoor Education Specialist, has been with Kidspace since 2011 and also works at the Los Angeles Zoo.