To be a kid is to be free. There is time to run around, with no shoes, make friends, explore, climb trees, connect with the earth, and imagine yourself to be a princess, cowboy, sorcerer, or rockstar. Kids have a tendency to become fascinated with the earth and its organisms, collecting bugs, chasing birds, and making mud pies with the soil around them.
As adults and parents, we love to see our kids spending time outside and using their imagination, stepping away from any digital screen and stepping into nature. Most of us are fine with all the dirt, mud, and high amounts of laundry because we know how good playing outside is for mental and physical development.
Gardening: The Positive Affects It Has on Kids
Gardening offers more than a bounty of delicious herbs, and vegetables. It can also be a great life lesson to share with your children. The qualities of resilience, responsibility, patience, and ambition are all synonymous with gardening.
Let’s take it back a few years. Children would have a class on their agenda called Home Economics. This class would provide students with the opportunity to learn about cooking, cleaning, gardening, and many other necessary skills needed in life to live alone and be independent. Leaving many parents taking these “lessons” into their own hands.
Although some people may view these classes as old-fashioned, and a drip down from the patriarchy, they serve a much higher purpose. Being able to nurture the skills of responsibility, patience, and a self-starter spirit is crucial to a successful and productive adult life.
Furthermore, just as gardening benefits adults in its ability to provide physical and mental well-being, it does the same for kids. Instilling active, outdoor activities for your kids early on sets a solid foundation for them to take what they know and have learned and run with it.
The benefits of kids gardening- backed by research.
An abundance of scientific research suggests that caring for plants can do wonders for our well-being and the well-being of our kids. The benefits of gardening with kids are not limited to just better nutrition and health. Child development involves many components, including skill acquisition, cognitive advancement, physical, and social growth. Let’s look at a few of the benefits in detail.
Nutritional awareness. Gardening improves opportunities for children (and families) to gain interest in eating more vegetables and herbs. A study in Tucson, AZ showed that children who participated in gardening activities learned to like healthy foods. The studied found that the food the kids grew had a high intrinsic value.
Environmental Awareness. Getting a little dirty, participating in gardening activities has proven to improve environmental attitudes of children (and adults). Gardening experiences are often the most accessible places to learn about natures gifts, interconnections, power, fragility, and beauty.
Learning Achievements. Research shows kids who participate in gardening activities scored higher on science and math tests. Gardening is a hands-on learning opportunity for kids, they use their senses and to discover the properties of soil, water, and plants. Gardening experiences contribute to children’s cognitive development plus, it’s fun!
Being a Role Model for Your Kids
Have you ever heard the country classic, “I’ve Been Watching You” by Rodney Atkins? Let’s get some lyrics for you to set the scene:
“He said “I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are
We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad?
I wanna do everything you do
So I’ve been watching you”
This song could not be more true. Kids watch their parents and role models. They learn best by example, and in order to instill the things that you value into their lives, you need to walk the walk! In the scope of gardening, this means it’s time for you to roll up your sleeves and get dirt-y with your kids.
Not only will this be a valuable time to teach your kids about plants, soil, weather, the power of the sun, and the life-giving capabilities of water, but it will also be an enriching time to bond with your children, see their interest peaked, and watch them grow into a happier, healthier version of themselves.
Plus, nothing is more fun than seeing the smile on your child’s face the first time they harvest a tomato or taste the food that they aided in growing.
Connecting With Your Inner Child
If you know Gardenuity, you know we are obsessed with the practice of grounding. Grounding can be anything from placing your feet on the bare earth to laying down in the sand to pushing dirt around and creating holes for your plants with your hands.
When you are practicing grounding or taking the time for your garden rituals, you are grounding yourself. Grounding is based on the idea that “humans evolved in direct contact with the Earth’s subtle electric charge.” Unfortunately within the past few centuries, our evolution as human beings and the technology surrounding us has resulted in us losing our direct connection with the earth due to shoes, pavement, and other inventions that have removed our bare feet from direct contact with the ground.
If kids need one thing more than anything, it is grounding. It is a tough world out there for our children, surrounded by social media, social status, school, and extracurriculars, sometimes all that is needed to come back to themselves and alleviate anxieties is a little bit of grounding. Furthermore, our kids are being forced to grow up much faster than any generation prior due to all of the turmoil of the world and the technology constantly bombarding them in all directions. Gardening and grounding allow kids to get dirty, feel like a kid, think like a kid, and provide an activity that is fun, fruitful, and beneficial to their minds and bodies.
A garden is the expression of someone’s mind and the outcome of someone’s care. Allow your kids to express themselves in nature. Allow your kids to feel your care through caring for a garden with them.