Mom of 4 and urban homesteader of 9 years shares why it is so important to teach our children to garden! Renaissance-Revival.com

8 reasons you need to get your kids gardening!

Aurora, our oldest, was born on Groundhog Day in 2008 and just like that charming rodent we look to for forecasting, we holed up inside for the rest of our brutally cold winter.

 

She was only 4 months old when gardening season started and was with me wherever I went. She would either lay on a blanket in the shade or next to me in her car seat with the sun visor up as I tilled, seeded, tended and harvested. We spent hours out there, perfectly content, side by side in the fresh air. Her, along with my three other kids have been raised in the veggie garden. They are real life cabbage patch dolls and look like them too!

 

Alice-in-the-yard

3 out of 4 of my babies loved to eat dirt. And sand. And grass. And bugs. I call it “building a healthy immune system”

In my experience, starting at about the age of 3, most kids learn how to follow more complex directions and start to show a natural curiosity for the environment. Since my children were typically within arms reach, playing in the dirt anyways, it seemed the logical next step was to teach them how to plant seeds in that dirt.

 

My three older children, Aurora (8), Auggie (6), and Asher (4), all do gardening “chores” as their age allows. Alice (23 months)  trails behind and loves imitating everything her siblings do. They all love gardening, each for different reasons and to varying degrees, but I rarely hear a complaint when I put the call out to come help in the garden.

 

I am convinced that children need to get their hands in the dirt.

Here are 8 major reasons why:

1- Gardening makes you happier and healthier.

It’s science. There have been numerous studies that have proven that gardening can improve
quality of life. I have known this to be true in my own experience and I believe that this theory applies to all ages. I witness its incredible benefits in my own children. I’m so passionate about the positive effects of gardening that I wrote a whole post on it!
Nothing makes a kid happier than a pile of dirt!

Nothing makes a kid happier than a pile of dirt!

2- Gardening encourages healthy eating.

Gardening can help with picky eaters. When children are involved in the growing of their food, specifically vegetables, it helps them overcome aversion to all things nutritious and crunchy. For example, if a child were to grow a cucumber, or a sugar snap pea, they have invested time, energy and A LOT of patience. The build up of anticipation is the perfect appetite stimulant for vegetables.

 

The rule in our house is that you can eat whatever fruit or veggie you want, whenever you want. I grow an edible landscape for this very reason. I want my kids surrounded by incredibly healthy options. They possess a vested interest in what they have helped grow and in the height of summer our yard is a virtual candy land to them – except instead of candy, it’s organic produce.

 

Celebrating carrot harvest!

Celebrating carrot harvest!

3- Gardening offers a lot of exercise, fresh air, and good old fashion vitamin D.

We have heard over and over that children these days aren’t getting enough exercise and outdoor time. Gardening just happens to be a fresh air workout that any age can participate in. After a day in the garden the kids always sleep SO HARD. That’s how I know they’ve had a successfully active day.

 

auggie-aurora-turning-sod

It takes a lot of kid muscle to turn over sod!

4- Pass on vital information.

I believe our society is in dire need of a wake up call about where our food comes from, the ethics of how food is produced and sold, and the environmental implications of the entire process. I think the most self sustaining thing we can do as individuals is to learn how to grow our own food.

 

One of the most radical things we can do as caregivers is to teach the children in our lives a different way of looking at food and how it is produced. A majority of our generation may never understand the importance of growing a garden but we possess the best way of changing the world; we can teach the next generation a better, more sustainable way.

 

Inspecting the chive patch for seeds to plant. Aurora  was paramount in helping this chive prolifically reproduce by spreading its seeds every.where. anyone need any chive plants?

Inspecting the chive patch for seeds to plant. Aurora  was paramount in helping this chive prolifically reproduce by spreading its seeds every.where. Anyone need any chive plants?

5- Gardening is an important teaching tool.

 Gardening offers so many unique teaching opportunities. Not only are there ample opportunities to learn about nature and the environment, it can also be used to teach any subject such as: math, science, art, reading, following instructions, textures, shapes, colors… I could go on, but you get the idea! Nature is an unlimited tactile curriculum. You can use every aspect of it as a way to teach and grow little humans.

6- Gardening teaches patience.

Growing a garden is a several month process and patience is a necessity. Most activities kids participate in have immediate results, and that’s fine, but I think it is imperative to take instances to teach children LONG TERM PATIENCE.

 

The thing about gardening that makes the patience part come easier is that even though the process is drawn out over the course of several seasons it offers a wide variety of different kinds of activities. Early spring is for preparing the soil, late spring is for seeding, summer is for growing and small harvesting and fall is dedicated to large scale harvesting and preserving. Each stage is exciting and the end results are food that they have a vested interest in.

 

7- Gardening teaches resiliency.

Without getting all technical let me just say that the industry known as “big Agra” is completely unsustainable. The hallmarks of its unsustainability are: excessive use of pesticides, which are responsible for killing the humans/enviroment unfortunate enough to live next to it. Pesticides are also responsible for the mass killing of bees (bees are responsible for pollinating a large portion of our food crops), soil erosion, genetic engineering (GMO’s), monoculture (the reason why bananas might soon be extinct), and concentration of animal waste.

 

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too promising for our children and grandchildren. If children are taught how to grow food, no matter what happens in an uncertain agricultural future they will possess the knowledge of how to feed themselves.

 

I forgot his water bottle so he made use of the leaky hose and a shovel to quench his thirst! Resiliency in action!

I forgot his water bottle so he made use of the leaky hose and a shovel to quench his thirst! Resiliency in action!

8- Gardening teaches self efficacy.

Wikipedia says that “Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.”

 

I think this trait is the most important tool we can give our children to help them be successful IN LIFE. When a child recognizes their effort, abilities and knowledge can expand, they literally believe they can do whatever they set their mind too.

 

Gardening is a great activity because it offers a child a chance to practice experimental learning with high levels of success, and this equation is paramount in building self efficacy.

 

experimental learning + high levels of success = self efficacy

I hope you are inspired to get your kids in the garden, check out my next post: 11 practical ways to get your kids interested in the garden!

 

Do you have any other reasons why it’s paramount to teach children how to garden? Please share your ideas and comment on Renaissance Revival’s Facebook wall! I would love to hear from you!

 

Yours truly,
Naomi
 8-reasons-to-teach-your-kid-to-garden

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