Gardening is a holistic hobby and one that supports a healthy lifestyle, so it makes sense that many parents would want to encourage their children’s interest in plants and working in the garden from an early age. However, gardening presents challenges and does require some patience and practice; and while children may initially take an interest, it can be hard to keep that spark alight for long enough to show them the basics. Here we have suggested 5 simple methods to help keep your children engaged in gardening.
Experiment with fun, colourful annuals such as sunflowers
This is a great way to introduce younger children to sowing seeds. Think colourful and vibrant flowers such as sunflowers, cornflowers and marigolds. The seeds of annuals tend to germinate quickly. They are also fun and relatively simple to grow, which fuels children’s interest and keeps their attention. Show your child how to plant a seed in a simple terracotta pot and let them get their hands dirty.
Encourage them to harvest vegetables
Harvesting your own fresh crops is just as satisfying for adults as well as children, so why not get the whole family involved? Let your children help you pull up carrots, shell peas and pick salad leaves before meals. This is a great opportunity to teach children about where fruit and vegetables come from, and how they grow, while hopefully instilling in them a desire to grow their own food in time too.
Put them in charge of watering
Many children really enjoy playing with water, so asking them to water crops that they have planted themselves, or just to give you a hand during a heatwave seems like a natural fit. If you fear the consequences of giving them reign over the hosepipe, or think a watering can may be a bit heavy for them, why not try smaller, child-friendly watering cans (this also means they shouldn’t do much damage by overwatering too). Alternatively, create make-shift, light sprinkler watering cans from recycled plastic bottles.
Give them their own space in the garden
Gardens are naturally full of intriguing shapes, smells and colours, so encourage your children to be part of it. Section off part of your plot and give the control of that section over to your child for their own space to play, explore and experiment with what they find in the garden. This works for children of all ages, and allows your child to learn about nature in their own way.
Let them pick up a plant from a garden centre and plant it themselves
Give a little more control to your kids at the garden centre and let them choose the plants that they are naturally drawn to rather than plants you prefer yourself. When you get home, show them how to plant it and encourage them to take ownership of the plant’s care. If the plant continues to thrive, it will give your child that sense of achievement. This may be better suited to older children.