“The wonders of childhood live in a garden”
-Sue Ann DuBois
As we await the true arrival of spring here in the North Country, why not start planning ways you can encourage children to get outside and “get their hands dirty” with gardening! April is Kids Garden month! It is never too early to introduce kids to gardening!
How Kids “Grow” in a Garden
When you think of gardening, you immediately think about watching your plants grow and bloom throughout the season. But did you know children can “grow” with garden activities? Garden activities are rich in developmental and sensory motor assets that help children grow. Garden literature today is full of ideas for “sensory” gardens. That is indeed a noble effort. However, just offering up a list of plants that are touted as “sensory” really miss exploration of the whole picture of children and their development. “Sensory” when applied in a developmentally appropriate manner throughout a child’s activities of daily living becomes the winning formula for children to engage, appreciate and truly grow in skills. As a 25 year Occupational Therapy professional, I have discovered ways to apply my love of gardening to helping kids grow and learn.
Outdoors is a Child’s “Growing” Playground
Over the past 20 years children have spent inordinate amounts of sedentary time in front of video screens, be it television, computer, tablet, gaming, early learning tech tools, you name it. This culture of technology can discourage a young child’s nature to move, explore, and create. Learning occurs through interaction with one’s environment. A screen eliminates the real life interaction of “learning by doing” Being outdoors in a garden offers a child a playground of movement, touch, taste and see. Working in gardens is a workout for the brain and body. Balance and strength grow with digging, planting and tool use. Pre-reading skills develop with color, shape and number discrimination. Cause and effect are taught in care and general observations season to season in the garden. General gardening practices offer opportunities to develop age level planning and organization. The landscape of the garden can be a child’s creative canvas.
Become a Garden Mentor for Kids
To celebrate Kids Gardening Month, consider sharing your love of gardening with a child. I have worked with kids throughout the years sharing my passion. More recently, I have been blessed to share this with my granddaughter. Our gardening time has given wings to an interactive relationship one cannot imagine. The sheer joy of watching little hands plant seeds, find a spring crocus, pick the first strawberry or blueberry of the season or picking their first bouquet is immeasurable. Share your joy! Volunteer with local non-profits that provide services to children.
Encourage your children and grandchildren to get outside and “dig in the dirt” Looking for more ways to encourage your kids to garden? Check out http://kidsgardening.org
Garden Goddess Opportunities for Kids to “Grow” in Gardens
Not sure how to engage your kids in gardening? The Garden Goddess will be hosting kids events in her gardens throughout the summer. Take a leap beyond the plant suggestions at the retail greenhouses and see first hand what works in our region. We will be exploring planting for pollinators, using fantasy in the outdoor gardens and welcoming the butterflies. Be sure to sign up for my emails for announcement of dates and times http://gardengoddesssenseandsustainablity.org
As always, keeping “common sense and sustainability” at the core of all my garden practices.