Teaching ecology to kids does not have to be hard. After all, kids are practically born loving nature and wanting to be outside. They love to play in the dirt and make mud pies and catch frogs and examine bugs and do all those dirty little kid things. Even in this era of technology and overprotectiveness we can all agree that being outdoors and active and learning is a good thing for kids. That is why I think that every child should have a garden of their very own, and these are a few reasons way:
- Responsibility – First off, having a garden teaches kids to be responsible. Like a pet, plants must be fed and watered and taken care of or they will die. Unlike a pet, plants cannot demand these resources through begging, barking, meowing or any other means. The children will be the ones responsible for keeping their plants alive and well. You can also teach them to be responsible with what they put on their plants. Fertilizers and pesticides can hurt the wild animals and the environment. Teach them to be responsible and use organic, natural methods to keep their plants alive and growing.
- Planning – It takes a lot of planning to make a garden grow. You have to plant the right seeds at the right time. You have to water them the right way. Some plants like each other and some don’t. Some require lots of room and other can grow close together. By helping your children plan out their garden before they create it you can help them to learn the importance of planning ahead. You can even teach them to plan a garden for every season. When one crop is harvested another will be ready to take its place. Being prepared is a good trait for any person to learn.
- Patience – It takes a long time for plants to grow. The start out as dead looking seeds and it can take quite a while for even a single green leaf to pop up. After that you have to wait even longer for it to produce. Some plants you can’t even see making anything. For example potatoes grow underground and you just have to have faith that they are making something for you to eat where you can’t see it. Taking care of a plant every day without immediate rewards teaches kids patience.
- Gentleness –You have to be gentle with plants. You can’t yank on them or drown them in water. You have to carefully transplant the little seedlings into the dirt, carefully place the tiny seeds the proper depth, and carefully harvest your produce without damaging the plant. If you need to thin out some growth then that also requires gentleness to avoid disturbing the other plants.
- Discernment – Teaching your children how to tell the difference between a good plant and a weed is a big deal. They will need discernment in every part of their lives. You can help them see ripe and unripe, a plant that needs food or water, and so on. Teaching your children that there are signs to look for in plants is a great stepping stone to teaching them how to be discerning in other parts of their lives. Help them to learn the difference between truth and a lie, between a good website and a bad one, between prejudice and tolerance. All from gardening.
- Learning where food comes from – Another thing that gardening teaches your children is where the food they eat comes from. Many children who grow up in the city have no idea how fruits and vegetables grow. They could not tell a corn stalk from a potato. By letting your children grow their own food they can see the differences between the plants, how they grow, how big they get and so on.
- Nutrition – Not only do kids get to learn where these common foods come from but they also learn to love to eat them. Even kids that are very fussy eaters will still try something they have worked so hard to grow. If you pick colorful and tasty varieties together then you have a better chance of them wanting to eat healthier and appreciating the value of produce.
- Creating something from nothing – There is a kind of magic to gardening. You take this tiny seed and from it grows this huge plant. The creation process is a great lesson for kids. It applies to every part of their lives. Every talent they have, every idea, every plan starts out small and with effort and time can grow into something big.
- Life cycles – Not only do kids learn about creation but they also learn about destruction. Bugs eat, plants die, fruit rots and through it all children learn. Help them to understand that death is just a part of life. Everything needs to die but through that something else gets to live. The seeds the plant produces, the soil it benefits, the bugs that live are all part of the cycle of life.
- The value of beauty – It is not just fruits and vegetables that your child can grow. Plant flowers and beautiful things for sheer enjoyment. Teach your children the value of beauty. Not everything in life should be practical and useful. Sometimes it is just enough that it is beautiful. A bouquet of flowers on the table can bringa smile to your face and warmth to your home. A bunch of flowers can also bring the bees and butterflies, further helping your garden and enhancing its beauty.
- Cooperation – Some plants work with other plants so that they both grow better and stronger. Other plants ward off bugs or keep away rot or add nutrients to the soil. By teaching your children these cooperative plants you can also help them to understand that people work that way too. By working together everyone can be benefited. While no one person or plant can do everything, working together allows everything to get accomplished. People and plants have things they are good at and bad at, but cooperation assures that everyone succeeds.
- The benefits of hard work – Last but not least a garden helps kids to learn the benefits of hard work. There is something really satisfying about working with your own two hands to accomplish a task. Even getting the garden set up and planted is a big thrill. Watch as your work pays off and the plants start to grow. Make something you can be proud of. By teaching your children how good it feels to work hard and accomplish something real you lay the foundation for a happy and successful life. Hard work does, after all, pay off.
Gardening is not just for adults. Kids should get started with their own garden as soon as they can. Taking care of a garden teaches kids so many good lessons that they need to apply in all areas of their life. By creating something and working hard you can help your children become happy, thoughtful and balanced adults.
Nancy provides feedback on all elements of the site “www.enannysource.com” helping us to really make sure that we are making it as easy as possible for caregivers to sign up and find work. In addition, she spends quite a bit of her time on freelance writing tasks.