Dirt and kids. Water puddles and kids. They all go together as these are some of Kids best toys. Considering this, gardening can be one of the fun experiences of life for children. Excite your kids by allowing them to prepare the soil, plant the plants they have selected, and watch them grow. Make it fun for them. Remember dirt and water go together with kids.
The following are some tips to help your kids become enthusiastic about home gardening. This experience will follow them throughout their lives but maybe without the fun of dirt and water puddles.
1. What are the right plants?
Your kids will probably choose plants and flowers that are bright and colorful. You should have an idea of plants in mind. Examples of bright flowers are cosmos and zinnias. These will keep your children fascinated for at least a while. If they prefer a vegetable garden, suggest the smalller cherry tomatoes and yellow squash, if space is available.
Remember, sunflowers are always a child’s favorite. They are tall and fuzzy and usually overwhelm a child. The sunflower will also attract birds to the seeds in the fall.
2. Starting seeds to grow
Let your children help with starting the seed germination process. As some seeds are tiny, your child’s fingers might be too little, but they can help cover the seeds with dirt. Remember, they like dirt.
Another option might be plants that have already been started in a nursary. You will find almost anything you want as a start.
3. Memories of gardening
Your kids enthusiasm will decline over time as the plant grows from the seeds they planted.
What can you do to help continue their enthusiasm? Engage the kids in conversation. Ask questions like, I wonder what it will look like? I wonder what color it will be? I wonder how tall it will grow?
Maybe get the kids a binder and suggest that they draw pictures of what the plant will look like, its color, etc. Maybe record the date the seed was planted, when it first emerged from the ground and answers to questions you asked earlier.
4. Location, location, location of the garden is important
The kids garden should be somewhere visible from the house or an area where they frequently visit or play. They will be more apt to see the changes in their garden as they pass by. They will see the slightest difference and report back to you if you keep them engaged and excited.
5. This is your kids own special garden
They may dig up a plant, just to see what is at the other end. That’s OK; it’s their garden. Remember, it is good for them to be curious. Help them replant after they look at the plant roots. This could be an educational experience as you discuss the roots and their benefits in the growth process. How they soak up the nutrients and water from the soil to help the plant grow.
Find a picture of each plant will help your children see what the flowers or vegetables will look like. Write or paint your child’s name on a board or flat rock and place in the garden, so visitors can see it’s their garden. When a visitor comments on their garden, this will make them proud of their work.
6. Playing in the dirt
Do you remember your childhood and playing in the dirt or mud or jumping in puddles of water? Your kids are probably no different. It is just part of being a kid. Remember that children all are fond of playing in dirt or mud.
They can help in making the soil ready for planting. Let them jump on clumps of dirt to break them up. You might want to even invest in small, kid-sized gardening tools. Keep them engaged in the overall process of gardening.
7. Watering the plants
Think back to when you were a kid. I bet you ran through a sprinkler or someone was spraying you from a garden hose. Playing with the water was fun and close kin to playing in the dirt. Your kids will get wet.
Maybe instead of using a garden hose and sprayer, you should find a small watering can for them to use to water their garden. Another educational exercise if to explain how they sometimes get thirst. If they turn the glass up to drink too fast, the water goes all over them and the floor. A mess for sure.
Teach them to water slowly and let the water go right to the roots of the plant. Teach them that water hoses are trouble for little hands to control.
8. Mistakes happen and especially for kids
For adults too. We all get impatient. Give your kids full control of their garden… maybe with a little supervision until they get the hang of gardening. If they make a mess, let them clean it up. Teach them to take responsibility for their own actions.
Let them get pleasure in what they have done. Then let them gain self-respect and pride in their own garden by cleaning up the mess. Don’t forget to tell them how to clean up the mess.