By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)
Children are such curious creatures with the love of learning and a natural desire to play in the dirt! Each year the Discovery Learning Preschool does some planting activities in the classrooms, and during the summer months, the children plant a garden in the Nature Explore Center. During the school year, we plant beans and flowers and take some time to watch them grow in our windowsills. Children get to see firsthand how nature works while they watch the cycle of life by observing a plant grow from seed to flower. Planting gives children an opportunity to take care of something in nature while learning the importance of caring for our environment. Children learn the valuable lesson of cause and effect while planting (plants die without enough water or sun light). Children gain knowledge of many new skills while planting from responsibly, discovery, and cooperation.
Gardening is the next step in planting. Children love to garden! Children take great pride when they can contribute and participate in the process. Gardening is one of those activities that children of all ages can take part in. It’s an excellent way to introduce nutrition to children. By planting different fruits and vegetables, children are more likely to eat them if they were part of the growing process. Gardening is exciting with the anticipation on watching your garden grow and the partaking in the weeding, watering, tending, and graphing each growth. It’s even more exhilarating when the opportunity arises when it’s time to pick and eat! If you don’t have space for a garden, you can always do some planting in containers that can sit on your porch, deck, or patio. Try planting vegetables that kids like to eat that are easy to grow from green beans, peas, or broccoli.
I found a great tip sheet for gardening: Top Ten Tips For Gardening With Children Compiled by Carol Burton from Urban Harvest Education http://www.urbanharvest.org:
1. Keep it simple.
2. Begin with good soil.
3. Keep it fun!
4. Plant easy plants at the right time of year to boost success.
5. Make a plan.
6. Eat what you grow.
7. Start gardening with children at an early age.
8. Offer help with visual and spatial reasoning skills.
9. Don’t use chemicals or pesticides in and around the garden.
10. Plant for wildlife.
If you need assistance in your garden or planting you can always contact your local nursery. They are always very helpful and they can also assist you in getting your garden started by giving advice and helping you put together and collect all you need for your garden. A wonderful article that will also be helpful is found at: http://www.babble.com/parenting/gardening-benefits/3/.
Gardening and planting with your children provides many opportunities for them to experience the process of planting, learn how to maintain a garden, and the joy of harvesting. The extended process would be preparing, tasting, and sharing the food you grow. Gardening can give your children such great satisfaction and is such a fantastic learning and teaching tool that can expand the understanding of bugs, worms, weather, and other natural experiences. Gardening is also good for your well-being. It is a peaceful experience and encompasses the body, mind, and soul. Happy Planting!
“The glory of gardening hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” ~ Alfred Austin