“What are you planting Mama?” asked my youngest, as he pushed a stool up to the counter and clambered up. “I’m planting tomato and pepper seeds” I replied, smiling. I’ve becoming firmly convinced that children can detect the presence of dirt from a mile away. “You’re planting seeds!” my daughter exclaimed excitedly, joining us. “I’ll get the heat mats!” chimed in my eldest as he dashed off to find them. It’s mid-March and the excitement for spring and gardening is palpable. For the last five years, starting seeds indoors has been an important tradition for our family. Every year my children keep careful watch over the seeds we plant. They treasure each new sprout and carefully water the small seedlings until they grow large enough to be planted outside.
Growing plants is a wondrous and magical thing and should be part of every child’s upbringing, regardless of where they live. These days gardens are sprouting up everywhere: rooftops, balconies, community plots, urban settings, schools, tiny apartment and sub-urban neighbourhood. If you’ve ever wondered whether gardening was worth the time and effort for you and your child then look no further! Below I share the top sevens reasons why kids should garden.
7 Reasons Why Your Child Should Garden
1. Gardening Gets Kids Dirty.
Planting seeds, digging in soil and pulling out weeds gets little hands covered in dirt, and dirt is good for kids! Dirt is full of wonderful microbes that build up children’s immune systems and reduce chronic conditions like asthma, allergies, diabetes and obesity.
For more about the benefits of letting your kids get dirty read: Let Your Kids Get Dirty!
2. Gardening Gets Kids Outside.
Does your child balk at the idea of going outside because there “nothing to do”? Planting a garden is a great way to entice your child outdoors every day. Children are naturally curious and like to check on the progress of plants and there’s nothing more satisfying than plucking off the first tender sweet snap pea. Getting kids outside also helps children stay active, reduce stress and get smarter!
3. Gardening Encourages Healthy Eating.
Even the pickiest of children are willing to try eating the fruits and vegetables they grow (I have one such child). Gardening with kids is a wonderful opportunity to talk about healthy eating and what that looks like. In fact, what you’ll find is that kids will help themselves to all sorts of things right from the garden like peas, carrots, strawberries and tomatoes. For an extra “WOW!” factor, try growing vegetables that are less easily found in a grocery store like purple carrots, orange tomatoes, stripped beets and yellow water melons.
4. Gardening Develops Muscles and Coordination.
Gardening is good for building muscles, fine motor skills and coordination. Digging dirt is hard work, so is pushing a wheelbarrow, pulling weeds and mounding potatoes. Kids learn fine more skills when plantings seeds, plucking off slugs from lettuce or picking fruits and veggies.
5. Gardening Teaches Kids Important Life Lessons.
Gardening teaches children lots of important things. First, there’s the important lesson of how to grow food, a skill that every person on our planet should know. Then there’s the science behind gardening (How do seeds sprout? What do plants need to grow?). Finally, there are many important life lessons learned along the way: responsibility of caring for plants, patience while watching plants grow and the self-confidence that comes with growing something on your own.
6. Gardening Builds Community.
Whether it’s a school garden, community garden, or family garden, gardening helps children learn how to work with others. It also provides the time and space for children to bond and connect with their parents, teachers and peers.
7. Gardening Connects Kids to Nature.
Spending time growing a garden helps children develop an upstanding about nature, how beautiful it is and how they have an important role in taking care of it. It’s an wonderful way to teach children that they are never too young to make a difference in the world.
Books About Gardening for Kids
- A Seed Is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
- Berries, Nuts, And Seeds by
- Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals and Ashley Wolff
- Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden by Renata Fossen Brown
- Gardening for Kids: 35 nature activities to sow, grow, and make by Dawn Isaac (new 2021!)
- Gardening Projects for Kids by Jenny Hendy
- I Can Grow a Flower by DK
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
- Oh Say Can You Seed?: All About Flowering Plants by Bonnie Worth and Aristides Ruiz
- Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
- Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
- Square Foot Gardening with Kids by Mel Bartholomew
- The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
- The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
- The Little Gardener by Jan Gerardi
- The Little Gardener by
- The Reason for a Flower: A Book About Flowers, Pollen, and Seeds (Explore!) by Ruth Heller
- Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
- We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines and Julianna Swaney
- Yucky Worms by Vivian French
Fact Sheet Summarizes Benefits of Gardening for Children
Benefits of Gardening for Childen (Facts Sheet)
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What a terrific post on the importance of gardening with kids! I’m delighted to discover my COMPOST STEW among the books you’ve suggested, and thank you so much for including it, Josée.