Children can learn new skills, have fun, play, and develop self-confidence by spending time in the garden tending plants and growing their own food. Most children enjoy being outdoors and love digging in the soil, getting dirty, creating things, and watching plants grow.
People of all ages can enjoy gardening, but children, in particular, will have lots of fun and gain special benefits. Gardening is educational and develops new skills including:
- Responsibility– from caring for plants
- Understanding– as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants)
- Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown
- Love of nature – a chance to learn about the outdoor environment in a safe and pleasant place
- Reasoning and discovery – learning about the science of plants, animals, weather, the environment, nutrition, and simple construction
- Physical activity – doing something fun and productive
- Cooperation– including shared play activity and teamwork
- Creativity– finding new and exciting ways to grow food
- Nutrition – learning about where fresh food comes from.
Some suggestions to get children involved and interested in creating a garden include:
- Keep it simple.
- Give children their own garden space
- Use lightweight, easy-to-handle, correct-sized tools and garden equipment.
- Encourage children to dig in the dirt. (Younger children love making mud pies)
- Grow interesting plants such as sunflowers, corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, and strawberries.
- Plant flowers that attract butterflies, ladybirds, and other interesting insects or birds.
To make the garden safe for children:
- Select the correct-sized tool.
- Keep sprays and fertilizers out of reach.
- Do not use chemicals. Garden organically whenever possible.
- Provide safe storage for equipment and tools.
- Secure fences and gates.
- Do not leave buckets of water unattended around very young children and toddlers.
- Younger children will require careful supervision during activities. Suitable tasks for younger children include watering plants, harvesting produce, and planting seeds. Older children are physically capable of handling a greater variety of activities, like digging, carrying, planting, mulching, and pruning.