What To Teach Kids About Gardening: Planning, Planting And Growing

Teaching children how to grow plants in the soil is a wonderful way to share valuable principles about family life.

Gardens not only make great hobbies, they provide useful teaching experiences for young children. Give them a small plot of soil for their own plants and watch them learn to nurture life as an analogy of family relationships.

You can start when they are perhaps two or three years old. If you don't own a property where a small plot of land can be set aside as a garden area, give each child his or her own pot of soil and a budding plant for potting. The main idea is that kids learn to use their hands to tend the soil and support new life. We'll assume that most parents will be able to spare a square foot or so of yard space for the new little garden.

Pick a nice day when the weather is enjoyable. Otherwise, young children may fret against the cold or wind. Get everything ready and take it to the area you plan to cultivate. If possible, get child-size tools for your little one to work with. Otherwise, be prepared to help him or her handle the gardening implements. You will need a hoe, a rake, a trowel or shovel, the seedling, top soil, fertilizer, and a watering can half-full of water.

Explain each step of the process to your child. Use short, simple sentences and words that can be readily understood. If you like, compare the planting of a seedling to the raising of a child. Your "lesson" might sound something like this:

1. "Let's work the ground first. We have to make it soft and ready for the plant. Here, you try it. That's right, pull up the soil. It's like a bed where the little plant will sleep. That's how parents raise their kids, isn't it?"

Help your little one hoe or shovel a small area of dirt. Then assist him or her to smooth out the clumps with a rake or the hoe.

2. "Good job! Now let's use the shovel to make a small opening for the plant. That's right. Let's set it gently in there. See how fresh and green it is? That's how small children look to moms and dads. We have to be careful to treat you just right so you will grow and be healthy."

Now show your toddler how to firmly brace the soil around the plant. Then let him do the watering; they love this part!

3. "I bet your little plant enjoys his bath! You like yours, too, don't you? Now let's leave him to the sunshine so he can start growing. That's why you get to play outside sometimes, so the sun and exercise can help you grow strong and tall, too."

Take your child to view the plant every day. Discuss each visible sign of growth. Make it fun and special, and soon he will enjoy seeing the new shoots and come to value the wonder of life. Perhaps in a year or two you can expand to a vegetable patch. Who knows? You may instill your child with a life-long love of nature.

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