How Gardening Can Help Your Child Learn
Did you know that gardening can help in your child's learning and development? Engage your child in gardening to harvest fresh, home grown vegetables and reap benefits for your child!
By Kerina De Floras • 6 min read
“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?” – Robert Brault
Gardening is much more wondrous and magical than we all know it to be. Planting a seed is like believing in tomorrow. Watching a tiny seed burst forth from the soil and grow into a plant is like watching life in its most beautiful form. You might think that you are nurturing your garden by taking care of it, but it is actually the garden that nurtures you. Gardening brings you closer to nature and lets you stop to smell the roses in your otherwise fast-paced day. It brings about a sense of calm and satisfaction and helps you bond as a family. Yes, we have heard all this about gardening, but here is something new – it can help your child’s learning and development as well.
Hands in the dirt, head in the sun and heart with nature – gardening gives your child all this. And it doesn’t stop there. Gardening provides an interactive playground for kids, and in doing so, it lets them experiment and learn. Here, we look at how this amazing activity can help in your child learn and develop skills. Get busy as a bee in your garden to feel as fresh as a daisy!
Engages the senses
Children learn better through sensory learning. As your kids work on the garden they can touch and feel the texture of the soil and the different shapes of leaves and flowers. They can smell the soil when they water the plants, which will remind them of the smell of the earth before rain. They can see the vibrantly coloured flowers, fruits and vegetables and the various shapes they adorn. Although these sound like every day things, the curiosity that develops in watching them grow helps your child ask questions about plants and related topics.
Helps them fall in love with science
Gardening opens the window to the world of science. You may think botany, but the plant kingdom will help your child learn more about chemistry as well. Young children can learn about germination, parts of a plant, types of plants and growth factors. Older children can learn about osmosis, photosynthesis, nitrogen cycle, transpiration and more. They can also experiment with growth factors, learn about different plant species and even come up with tips for growing them. Your kids will learn about scientific concepts every day, without even realising that they do. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation!
Develops motor skills
As your child engages in digging up the soil, planting seeds, watering the plants, using tools or plucking vegetables, his hand-eye coordination develops. Activities like carrying small pots and uprooting plants build his physical strength. By using tools, your child will learn how to hold and grasp objects. If you have an outdoor garden, he will learn about maintaining his balance on firm land or loose soil. All these contribute in the development of fine motor skills, which in turn improve your child’s writing, cutting or typing skills.
Imbibes patience and responsibility
Growing your own vegetables or watching your seed grow into a plant requires good care and patience. As they wait to harvest fresh home-grown vegetable or fruits, children learn to be more patient and understand that it is definitely worth the wait. The waiting actually makes the whole process even more exciting for kids. When given the task of tending to their own garden, children become responsible and take their duties seriously. You can help them chart a timetable with details about when to water the plants, when they need to be manured and when they can be harvested. They will also understand about cause and effect – that their plants will wither if not taken care of. This will also help them care more for the environment.
Builds creativity and social skills
As your child works more and more on the garden at home, she is bound to come up with ideas to expand it or make use of the space to create a better garden. She will learn about how to place pots such that they do not occupy much space, while also making them look aesthetic. If you have an outdoor garden, she can also learn about landscaping and making allotted spaces for different plants. These activities expand her creativity and also reduce stress related to school and tests. Some schools provide a space for children to maintain their own garden. You can talk to your kid’s school about it if they do not have one. Your child will get to know other kids who share the same interest and make more friends. It is also a great activity to bond as a family.
Encourages healthy eating
If your child grows his own vegetables, herbs or leafy greens, he develops more interest in eating them too. You will notice a considerable change in his eating habits and watch him eat his vegetables without much fuss. A parent’s dream indeed! You can also take him through the process of preparing a dish with the harvested vegetable or fruit and teach him how the food travels from the plant to the plate. This way, children will learn to appreciate and enjoy their food better than before.
Suvila John, a working mom of three kids, shares how she and her family spent their spare time during the lockdown. They created a beautiful garden and harvested their own vegetables! Read her story here.
“A small edible garden on our balcony was a quarantine project that I started to keep my kids and me happy. I created this little space hoping we'd cut down screen time but it did a lot more than that. It made them more responsible, caring, independent, and environmentally aware. Soon enough, my little farmers had their own morning routine starting with watering their plants, checking to see what new fruits and veggies had grown, counting them, and in the process, gobbling down some fruity treats. Their favourite part is harvesting the produce and it warms my heart to see their happiest smiles as they carefully harvest their fruits and veggies. I have also noticed that they are not as fussy with the veggies they eat now. Introducing children to gardening is a great way to help teach patience and increase their awareness of where their food comes from!”
So, whether your garden is a tiny corner on the balcony or potted plants on your rooftop or a spacious one around your house, get your children involved and help them ‘reap’ the benefits. As they say, mighty oaks grow from little acorns, so start working on your garden today.
About the author:
Written by Kerina De Floras on 28 September 2020.
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