Here are some great tips to encourage your kids get out of the house and into the backyard!
We are in the midst of a backyard revolution. The veggie patch is back, and whether you have a large yard with a garden bed or a courtyard adorned by a vertical garden, growing your own food is firmly on the menu.
And it’s not only us who find this rewarding and satisfying. The garden is a wonderful place for children too. Once they discover it for themselves, the TV will be off and you’ll have your phone back!
Here are five ways you can encourage your kids get out of the house and into the outside from children's author, Bianca C. Ross.
1. Show them something new each day
We all love new things, especially our kids. And that’s the wonderful thing about a garden – there’s always something different to see. A new flower appears for this season’s crop, leaves change their colour and birds fly by to pay a visit.
Start a conversation with your child by asking them what they’ve found today.
- Have them draw a picture of their favourite discovery
- Suggest they write a short poem about it
- Encourage them to share their thoughts with you and ask questions about what they’ve seen
2. Empower them and embrace “Let ME do it!”
Kids love doing things for themselves, and the garden is a great spot to indulge their independence. It’s the one place where they have the license to spill water and spread dirt!
Allowing your child to literally get their hands dirty is liberating both for you and them.
- Encourage them to participate in activities such as picking produce, digging garden beds and watering pots
- Teach them about the benefits their activities provide for the garden
- Discuss how gardens and plants enhance our everyday life
3. Encourage them to be creative
We’ve all heard that every idea is a good idea, and this is especially true for our kids when they’re out in the garden! There’s no strict colour palette to adhere to, and it’s a place where “alternative” design can indeed work.
Discuss with your child what they think would work in the garden.
- Have them paint pots with their own designs using their favourite colours
- Encourage them to arrange garden beds and pots in their own way
- As well as harvesting fruit and veggies, suggest they pick foliage to make an arrangement for the kitchen table
4. Give them responsibility for their own section of the garden
Allowing a child to have their very own space fosters a sense of pride. And this can readily happen outside in the garden. It gives a child the feeling of ownership and encourages their buy-in for different activities and projects.
Designate an area of the garden that will become their domain.
- Encourage them to draw up plans with pots or garden beds to lay out their space
- Have them make a list of the materials they will need to achieve these plans
- Make a list of the things they will need to achieve their vision
- Let them know how important it is to keep their part of the garden flourishing
- Once it’s up and growing, encourage them to weed, water and check for garden pests. Little people love slimy things!
5. Have them choose what they want to grow
We all love our favourite things, and kids have such a special way of expressing delight in theirs. Harnessing their enthusiasm for gardening can be very beneficial. Studies show that children who are involved in growing fruit and vegetables are far more likely to give them a try.
Seeing plants develop and grow helps children learn and appreciate the effort and time it takes to produce food
- Talk about what fruit and vegetables they like to eat and make a planting and picking chart for the seasons
- Discuss the time it takes for the different plants to grow to help manage their expectations
- Make a list of recipes that include each fruit and vegetable as an ingredient to help with meal planning
Kids are naturally inquisitive and the garden is one of the best places to satisfy their curiosity. It’s convenient too – it’s within walking distance, it’s always available and best of all, it’s free!
So get your kids out into the garden and enjoy watching their plants, and imaginations, grow and prosper.
Bianca C. Ross is the author of Herbert Peabody and His Extraordinary Vegetable Patch published by Farinet Pty Ltd. See www.herbertpeabody.com for details