“A new study conducted for Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has found that encouraging children to learn gardening boosts their development by helping them become happier, more confident, and more resilient. In addition, gardening also helps teach children patience and the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
–Quote from an article titled, Teach Children Gardening and Give Them a Natural Head Start in Life on NaturalNews.com
It’s that time of year again for planting and growing things, and I’m happy that my five-year-old seems just as excited about the garden as he was last year. It’s an exciting year for me too because we’ve planted things I’ve never attempted to grow before. At his request, we’ve got corn, carrots, onions, and garlic, and we also have the old staples: cucumbers and tomatoes.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to prune back some bushes and clip the perennials before they budded (makes them stronger), so my flower beds are crowded with daisies falling over on top of other flowers, and an off-shoot of a butterfly bush is growing between two bushes that were already suffocating each other.
The yard is a work-in-progress, and it always will be, but even when it’s unruly, it gives me great pleasure to see the plants circle around to their blooming glory. It’s also the potential that gives me thrills – thinking about what I might be able to do once the boys are older and strong enough to haul dirt and wheelbarrows!
It’s my goal to keep them interested in cultivating a garden, so I don’t pressure them, and I let them plant what they want and overwater it at times too. If something doesn’t grow, I tell my son we learned something, and we’ll try again next year. My five-year-old is always talking about planting this or that, and getting a new packet of seeds is like getting a new toy.
Yesterday we went to visit some long-time friends of mine, and I knew the five-year-old would love their garden, which is spread out over their whole yard. It’s one of those cozy cottage-like places. Of course he was in heaven as he asked what the names of the plants were, and when I wasn’t looking my friend gave my son a packet of green bean seeds and some seeds from a plant outside.
I didn’t think we’d have room for those green beans, but my husband enthusiastically went out with my son and extended the garden by several feet. So now we’ve got green beans too!
When I mentioned to my son that he might be a gardener when he grows up he said no because he wants to study snakes. I had the pleasure of telling him that it’s possible to do more than one thing when we grow up, and he could certainly have his own garden. A light bulb seemed to go on over his head when I said that.
Last year I used his enthusiasm to teach him about the parts of a plant. I found an inexpensive “Life Cycle of a Plant” poster at a teacher’s store, and we also have two helpful books at home that my son likes to read: From Seed to Plant by Allan Fowler and How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan. Both of these books are written for youngsters. We also sprouted bean seeds in jars.
Gardening is a wonderful learning experience for children. It teaches them how our food grows, about the environment, and it gives them something to take pride in. It’s the character-building aspect of gardening that I most love. My son has learned about patience and hard work. And for me, it’s relaxing, except maybe when the boys are fighting over who gets to water with the hose.
Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on June 13, 2012.