Kids take to the garden in different ways based on their age, and sometimes even their gender. My three-old loves to play with the hose and can’t tell when a plant has enough water. My one and half year old just likes to put her hands in mud.
Here are some tips, by age for getting the most out of gardening with your kids.
Preschoolers, Ages 3-4: Don’t expect to accomplish much in the way of serious gardening. Instead focus on enjoying the garden. Move mulch, look for frogs, water. Even pull up a few weeds. Try to plant some seeds in a small area or pot that is exclusively their own. We’re growing pickles – so we’ll go from the raw cucumbers through the pickling stage.
Don’t forget to keep a watchful eye at this stage so nothing wrong goes in the mouth (tempting looking berries.) Be warned pre-schoolers ask a lot of questions, so be ready to do some explaining – or head to the library for the answers
Kindergartners, Age 5: This is the time to create special spaces in the garden – tree houses, forts, secret gardens, even an out of the way bench will all serve to stimulate imagination and dramatic play.
At this age you can work on planting a more substantial garden with your little one – don’t be overly concerned with the results, just enjoy the process.
Elementary Schoolers, Ages 6-7: Improving reading and math skills will add to the gardening fun. Make plant markers, read seed packets, pore over catalogs, and pay for nursery plants. And yet they’ll still be wide-eyed and open to nature’s mysteries. Soil, holes, and water hold endless fascination, as do bugs.
But for children this age, the “doing” is still more important than the end result.
Middle Schoolers, Ages 8-9: The emphasis shifts from doing to doing well. Now is the time to work out a garden design on graph paper, thinking about garden design principles. Or plan out a vegetable garden taking into account all of the varied needs of the different crops. They can translate that drawing to a real garden.
Ability to use tools, supervised, of course, also increases, so consider some easy building projects like a trellis or fence. Also, don’t forget growing competitions held by the 4-H or other organizations.
Middle Schoolers, Ages 10-11: Now gardening celebrates its ability to cross several disciplines with ease to speak to your children’s many interests. Garden is science, math, art, and still fun. Your youngsters can organize a class project to create a small garden at the local nursing home — and gain the support of businesses and parent volunteers. They can build garden structures and community. T
Tweens: Not quite teenagers, yet, but gardening is likely to lose out to a host of toher “cooler” activities, unless you make gardening great. Consider a more involved project or perhaps growing a garden into a small business – perhaps they can focus on oraginc heirloom tomatoes and sell them to a restaurant or at a garden stand. Or grow lavender for a sachet and scent business – use the lavender to create sachets, soaps and scents and find an outlet to sell them – your girls will keep connected to the garden, learn the fndaamentals of planning, follow through and business while being crafty – plus you can promise they can spend the money they earn at the mall.
Also, don’t forget to encourage the gardent to table connection. For any future chef du jours out there, the movement to have more of ffod from organic, local sources is growing and very hip. Encourage them to grow food to eat and design recipies around the garden or vice versa. Combining gardening with a hip new trend might just assure their life long love of nature.
Check out GirlMogul’s Create Your Own Garden Kits