The Benefits of Gardening With Children
Successful gardening with children looks…messy.
Success is easy to overlook while scrubbing mud-encrusted little hands or sweeping up a trail of dirt down the hallway. But mud and dirt are a part of success, because gardening with kids is about more than plants: It’s an opportunity to eat well, play, teach balance, create, fail and succeed—and hang out together.
Giving the opportunity to harvest (and maybe even grow) a vegetable can be a surprisingly effective way to introduce fussy eaters to new tastes and textures. (It can also be an effective way to reintroduce things that have previously been rejected!) Young children are often fascinated by the unexpected. Expect something unusual if they are allowed to choose seed.
There is lots for kids to discover in a garden. Young children might collect things such as seed pods, rocks, or bugs. Older children might find it rewarding to have a small garden. Some kids might just play alongside adults who are gardening.
If it seems fruitless explaining to a young child why it’s important to balance screen time with outdoor play time, the garden gives adults an opportunity to model balance when they switch off devices to go outdoors to garden.
Kids might want to garden differently than adults do. That’s good, because gardening can be a creative outlet. Parents might be delighted—or horrified—with the results (which could include something like a purple-themed garden, miniature garden, lettuce checkerboard…or bug-themed garden!) On the topic of results, one other thing that gardening can teach children (and adults too) is dealing with failure. When plants die, gardeners grow new ones
What’s one of the least talked about but most important benefits of gardening for children? Gardening is an opportunity for kids and parents to hang out together.
About the author: Steven Biggs is a garden expert who helps people grow edible gardens. His recent book Gardening with Emma, co-authored with his daughter, is a kid-to-kid guide to having fun in the garden. An author, radio host, horticulturist, and speaker, Steven shares inspiring ideas—and a free gardening newsletter—at StevenBiggs.ca.