I can think of a million reasons why you should allow your children to help in the garden. Okay, not really a million, but I can think of a whole lot of reasons why you should encourage their participation. And to be honest, I can’t think of one reason not to.
My mom always had a garden while we were growing up, and I recall those days working along side of her with such fondness and nostalgia. My mom and her garden (and my participation in it) are really one of my favorite things to remember about my childhood.
I really want to encourage you to let your children participate in the gardening process with you if you already garden. If gardening hasn’t been your thing, I still encourage you to let your kids give it a go. Forcing it will seem like work, but allowing it will seem like a privilege.
Here are 11 Reasons You Should Allow Your Children to Help in the Garden.
- Exercise – Today’s kids typically spend so much more time indoors using technology than we parents generally did when we were kids. Working in the garden is a great form of exercise, and the good thing is they probably won’t even know that they are exercising. It will seem like fun. Gardening can burn about 200-400 calories per hour (and it keeps us and them away from the refrigerator – added bonus).
- Beneficial Vitamin D and Sunshine – Vitamin D deficiency can be a pretty serious thing and it is more prevalent now-a- days. Researchers have shown that proper Vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of many diseases – including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. Sunlight also has other benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system. Gardening is a great way to get your quota of vitamin D and sunshine.
- Family Interaction – Gardening is a perfect way to spend time together as a family. It is also a great way to encourage communication. Communication often comes easier for most people when they are engaged in an activity at the same time. With gardening, you are generally in close proximity with one another. It is a great opportunity to enjoy the company of your family joking around or having meaningful discussions while accomplishing a task together.
- Understand Where Their Food Comes From – Most children have very little idea of where the food that they eat comes from. All they know is that their mom or dad goes to the grocery store and comes back with groceries. It is easy to overlook the effort that it takes to provide that food for them – whether it is the salary it took to provide it, or the labor and transportation it took to grow it and bring it to the stores. Getting their hands dirty allows them to be intimately aware of the amount of effort it takes to provide what they consume.
- Encourages less food waste – When they have invested their own labor in the garden, it is a lot harder to waste what they worked so hard for. It encourages frugality and may lead to learning additional skills such as canning or learning to freeze produce in an effort to not be wasteful.
- May Encourage Their Willingness to Try New Foods – I have found that when my kids have more input in a project or idea, then they are much more enthusiastic about the results. When my kids have made a meal in the kitchen themselves, they are much more likely to enjoy the meal because it came from their hands (even when it isn’t necessarily their favorite dish). The same thing with gardening – when they have participated in the growing process, they are so much more willing to sample the fruits of their labor (especially if they were able to be involved with deciding what to grow).
- Learn About Nature/Science – This is really a no-brainer. Most of us – adults and kids alike- have very little knowledge about the living things around us. Gardening is a perfect way to get out and observe what is going on in nature. You are surrounded by budding plants and the critters that are attracted to them. The kids can easily incorporate this into their science lessons. Creating a nature book is a great way to do that. Science that comes alive is so much easier to get excited about and retain.
- Encourages Frugality – Gardening encourages children to be less wasteful, but it also encourages a sense of frugality in general. It encourages them to be productive with their own hands, and to be willing to not always opt for convenience.
- Learn to Work Hard/Sense of Accomplishment – Let’s be honest. A lot of kids really have not learned how to work hard these days. The modern world is just so different than it was when we were kids or our parents were kids. The reality of adulthood often comes as a shock to today’s youngsters. Growing your own food takes a lot of effort, but the reward is worth it. You have to be diligent from the beginning of the process to the end to reap the rewards. It really is a great way to encourage hard work, and kids feel good knowing they helped put delicious food on the table.
- Better Nutrition – Pretty simple here. When you are able to eat your produce soon after it was picked, you retain so much more of the vitamins than you generally get from the produce from the stores. The store produce has to go through the harvesting and transportation process before it arrives at the store, and then sits for who-knows-how-long before it is purchased and brought home. Nutrition is depleted greatly before we consume it. Allowing your kids to help in the garden will help them to see and taste the difference between store-bought and home-grown produce. No comparison usually.
- Keep them Busy/Establish Healthy Hobby – Last, but not least, gardening is a great way to keep kids occupied and out of mischief. Gardening is such a great hobby for kids to pick up and may remain a hobby for life.
I hope I have convinced you, if you weren’t already, that you should allow and encourage your kids to help in the garden. I am going to take my own advice and get my own spring garden going. I know my kids will be thrilled to get to participate.
Do your kids help in the garden? What do they enjoy most about it?