Many parents want to help their children learn about the natural world, and about gardening in particular. Gardening can be a simple pleasure for some, but it is also a useful skill as it’s perfectly possible to grow your own fruit and vegetables which make a fresh and healthy alternative to shop-bought vegetables.
Although it might seem that getting kids to enjoy gardening is an impossible task, it needn’t be. There are lots of ways to encourage a child’s interest in the garden, and in particular the plants and insects that live in the garden. But the whole experience of gardening can be made fun and exciting with a little bit of thought. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Grow Your Own Plant
Choose an easy-to-grow plant and let your child grow it for themselves, with your guidance of course. The plant can be an indoor or outdoor variety, though for beginners an indoor variety can be a better choice.
One great example of an easy-to-grow indoor plant is cress, which can be grown in cotton wool placed in a waterproof container. Monitoring the growth of the plant daily is a great way for kids to start observing natural processes and for getting them interested in gardening.
Some parts of gardening can be a chore. Weeding is one example, and planting seeds another. However, it’s possible to turn tasks like these into entertaining diversions for kids, especially if you have 2 or more children.
Simply set them a challenge, like how many of these weeds can you pull out of the ground and bring to me in 2 minutes! Or how quickly can you sow all the seeds I give you into the holes I’ve dug. Rewarding children for doing well can also make the whole experience more fun.
Scrapbooking is a classic children’s past-time, and makes for a great mix of education and fun. Get your child involved in your garden by having them make a garden scrap book.
One day every week or two they can draw some of their favorite things in the garden, collect leaves and flowers to add to the scrap book, and take a photo of the same spot in the garden to see how it changes over time. Letting them get creative and do whatever they want in the scrap book is key – just make sure they focus on the garden.
Teach Them About Plants, Animals & Insects
If your child is in the garden with you, pay attention to what they find interesting and answer any questions they have. Encourage them to ask more questions and to be inquisitive about what they see, and if there’s anything you can’t answer then go back inside with your child and find out for them.
Kids are often drawn to bright and colorful plants, so show them those that are brightest and most colorful in your garden. The same goes for animals and insects, although these often also hold fascination for other reasons.
Kids may love to know more about a garden fox or hedgehog that lives in your hedges, or may be fascinated by the way ants behave. Tell them all that you can about such things and encourage them to find out more by themselves or with your help.
These ideas should all help to get you started, but it’s not hard to think up more. Just get creative and try to imagine ways of making all things garden-related fun. This should help to get your child interested in gardening in no time.