Gardening is something we do all-year-round, not just in Spring and Summer. So, as a kids activity it ticks all the boxes by getting our little ones into the open-air and sharing experiences. Plus, it’s fun AND you don’t even have to have a garden to do it!
Here are some practical ways of getting started. The BBC working with the RHS has made it easy to stimulate enquiring minds with lots of great ideas. These include projects to do at home, in your own garden, indoors and there’s plenty of factual stuff too. What little boy can resist fascinating facts about wriggly creatures. Go to the BBC link below.
When planting in the soil or in pots choose easy to handle large seeds for little hands like peas, beans and sunflowers. Look for plants, which can be readily distinguished from weeds. Keep a pet dandelion!
An interest in gardening can be fostered anywhere and doesn’t have to be in a formal garden setting. Scent trails, where you search for and identify different plants can be followed in your own garden, along a country trail or in a public park. Challenging for grown-ups as well!
The RHS and schools, who have collaborated throughout the UK in recent years in setting up gardens and gardening clubs, point to the many health benefits of gardening for children – getting them away from screens and into the open air. RHS research suggests that kids perform better at school and develop healthy eating habits as a result of their interest in self-grown veg.
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening found that children built “life skills such as confidence, teamwork and communication”. The Kings Fund in 2016 reported feelings of positive well-being, personal achievement and empowerment among young gardeners, particularly amongst children with learning and behavioural difficulties. These youngsters in particular experience a sense of pride in a world where so often they are unable to shine. They also find gardens to be peaceful places, “conducive to meditation”, suggests Caroline Levitt, founder of Diggers Forest School and Nursery, Midhurst. Children learn to communicate with the world about them, which in turn puts them in touch with their inner selves.
Gardening with the little ones in your life can initiate a shared life-long love of plants and the outdoors. The continuity of the seasons fosters a long-term commitment to the world about us and a better understanding of the environment. You never forget seeing your first seed emerge from the dark earth and from that moment we become a part of the wider ecosystem.
Take them into the garden one warm night and just let them lie on the grass and look up at the sky. They’ll never forget it!