Gardening with kids is a wonderful activity. It is amazing to see the astonishment on a young child’s face when something that they planted begins to grow! Older kids can be involved in the whole process of planning out, planting, watering and harvesting.
Gardening does not offer the instant rewards that many children expect of life these days. It can help them to learn patience as well as the importance of taking care of things over a period of time. Kids who are used to getting everything they want immediately in our electronic age can benefit greatly from a return to old fashioned activities like this.
So what should you grow when gardening with kids? Flowers, vegetables and herbs can all be used. If there is something that they particularly like to eat, for example cucumber, that would be ideal. Try to plan so that different things will be ready at different times. Flowers often appear quickly and a child can take great pride in creating a flower arrangement for the table from his or her own garden.
With small children, less is often better. Just a tray of seeds in the house or a container in the yard will be enough. At first, they will rush to it every day to see if something has appeared. Later, you can enjoy measuring the growing plant with them, or counting leaves and flowers.
Of course you will want to avoid poisonous plants if you have very young children. Check all the plants that you are thinking of using, because you may be surprised at what is poisonous. For example, tomato and potato leaves are toxic. With older children, you may decide to go ahead with plants like these and simply warn them. After all, they will come across poisonous plants in nature and most parents would agree that it is better for them to be knowledgeable than ignorant.
The garden also offers an opportunity to talk to kids about difficult subjects including death and reproduction in a very natural setting. Having a child around plants is a good reason not to use pesticides, but they will no doubt come across predators feeding on insects. They may also be unhappy when plants die off at the end of the season. This can be a gentle first lesson in the sad fact of life that even what we love most can die.
If you have no interest in gardening yourself, it may be better not to fake it. Kids can usually tell and their own enthusiasm will quickly die. Instead, consider asking your parents or in-laws to take on this activity with them, if they are keen gardeners. Older people often love to grow things too and gardening with kids can create a wonderful bond between grandparents and their grandkids.