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Grow Together

When families garden together, they grow together in so many ways!”


With spring just around the corner, what better way to welcome it than by starting your own family garden? Growing a garden from seeds can also teach kids valuable life lessons along the way.

Benefits of Gardening:

Education

While kids may love the idea of getting their hands dirty, watching seeds grow provides ample teaching opportunities for parents. For example, school-agers can practice reading the back of the package, then explaining the steps to either younger siblings, or to mom and dad. Here, parents can promote discussion and ask questions such as, “if this seed needs lots of light, where should we put it?” or “how far down is a seed length?” Understanding each step helps kids with comprehension.

And what better way to make science cool than a little bit of applied biology? Measure progress of your plants to teach great scientific observation skills. Kids can also learn about different plants, including how much water they take and how much sun they need.

 

Health

Planting a seed and watching it grow can be therapeutic, giving a child a sense of purpose and achievement. For shy children, participating in this type of calm activity with others can provide a safe and secure place to develop their ability to mix socially, make friends and learn practical skills that will help them to be more independent. Seeing a seedling sprout under the care of their hands can also help build self-esteem, allowing a chance to connect with something, and even reduce feelings of isolation and exclusion.

To keep kids interest throughout the entire process, choose plants such as giant sunflowers or leggy bean poles, or plant baby carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes, or miniature bok choy seeds. These are kid-sized so when the time comes, little fingers will have an easy time picking them off the vine.

While young kids may not work up a sweat planting seedlings, tending to a garden requires some physical activity. Encourage them to get moving by digging holes (using spoons for little ones), watering and weeding a garden. Any physical health through exercise and strengthening of muscles helps improve mobility.

 

Responsibility

When children take part in planting seeds and watching them grow, they come to understand that plants are living things and need nurturing in order to survive. They also gain an appreciation for nature and the food they eat. In an article published by the LSL College of Agriculture in Louisiana, child-care trainer Esther Coco Vanderlink, writes, "when children accept the responsibility of preparing the soil, watering the plant, etc, we help them become caring individuals." She also notes that gardening can teach real-life lessons, such as the death of a plant from improper care, writing that, "children are able to develop an appreciation for the value of responsibility."

 

Get Outdoors

When it is time to transplant your mini seedlings to your outdoor garden there are even more adventures to be found. Animals, insects, worms and other creatures are attracted to plants. Draw their attention to observing this unique ecosystem, and encourage them to go outside to see the days’ progress, and if the garden’s received any visitors. When they’re outdoors, keep them busy by having them tend the garden: turning the soil, digging holes, pulling out weeds, or watering the plants.

 

Family Togetherness

A backyard veggie garden makes it easy to incorporate fresh vegetables into healthy meals and snacks. And, while we know that getting kids to eat their carrots can turn into a long bargaining/crying session, children are more likely to eat vegetables that they’ve grown. It’s a real boost to a child’s self-esteem knowing that they’ve been responsible in nurturing that veggie on their plate from a seed. This sense of pride allows them to say, "I grew that", and taste it, as well as offer it to others.

 

This spring, you and your kids can grow by growing a garden together!