If you haven’t tried gardening with your children, I really recommend it for a number of reasons.
Why garden with your children?
1. Gardening is a great opportunity to BE together.
Last year a neighbor of mine said she had looked over into our yard with great affection as she saw me gardening with the children. She said, “As my kids get older, it’s just so easy to have them out playing with friends or in the house on their own. I forget sometimes what it was like when we played like that together.” I have made some of my very best memories with my own mother while working in the soil of her garden together. We have had deep conversations, laughter, and fun, while weeding and planting together. My sister and I both find weeding to be a stress relief that we inherited from our mother. What a great way to model a healthy way to decompress at the end of the day. So, I treasure gardening an opportunity to spend time with my children, side-by-side, talking and often laughing as we dig and plant and harvest.
2. It gives your children an opportunity to do purposeful work.
This is a principle you can read more about, within Practical Life activities in a Montessori environment. In summary, “Children love to contribute”. When you garden with your children, it is work they can do, which is incredibly meaningful to the Earth, the family, and their own food/snack options. I recommend giving them tools to work in the dirt with you. They can use sandbox rakes or spades like this:
or even more “grownup” type tools like this shovel that my 4-year-old loves:
3. Gardening increases your child’s interest in eating vegetables.
If you are searching for ways to have your kids interested in carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, or even lettuce, growing them together is a fantastic way! My 4 year-old son even started to eat Kale raw, as he found it was so exciting to cut the large leafy greens himself (great chance to practice using scissors!), washing in a colander, and chomping them right away. To help matters, we also have a large area with strawberries, which I encourage everyone to try. Here in Montana where it’s hard to grow many things, strawberries seem to grow like a weed, and the children LOVE to harvest them!
4. Gardening can be a way to teach Math and Science.
Last year we did a bit of a science
experiment, making a hypothesis at the beginning of each month regarding how many strawberries we thought we would harvest that month. Each time we harvested the berries, we would count them and add them to our tally on the chart in our kitchen. I think our July tally on our chart was in the realm of 500!
If you would like more ideas about the benefits of gardening with your children, check out this great article by PBS: Gardening: How it Affects Your Child’s Brain, Body and Soul.