This is the perfect time of year to get gardening & planting, & a great opportunity to introduce young children to all the discoveries & benefits that gardening has to offer. Here are our 12 Top Tips for Gardening with Young Children.
1. Old clothes are a must just in case things get a little messy. We believe in embracing the mess & encouraging children to be free to explore, wearing old clothes means there are no limits to what can be discovered.
2. Gardening offers so many opportunities for sensory play & discovery. Why not encourage children to feel, smell, touch & taste (within reason) plants, herbs, vegetables & flowers growing in the garden. Let them plunge their arms into the soil/compost & explore its properties & texture.
3. Gardening is a great way to encourage young children to care for & nurture living things. It enables them to consider what plants need in order to grow, what shelter/support they may need, & how simple actions can make a difference. It’s also a great introduction to life cycles & the insects that inhabit their garden.
4. Even the youngest children can get involved & get their hands messy. As a baby Minnie loved to observe us gardening around her, as well as observing all nature had to offer. As she’s got older she’s loved becoming more & more involved with the gardening, & at 18months she was planting out her first tomatoes & strawberries.
5. Gardening can be a child led experience. Talk together about what they’d like to grow & let them choose what they wish to plant. What plants do they like to eat, what’s their favourite coloured flower, etc. If children are engaged in the activity they are likely to gain more from the experience.
6. Use gardening tools that are appropriate for your child’s age. Child sized equipment such as forks, trowels etc enable greater independence & control.
7. Allow time & space for children to ponder & wonder as they experiment in the garden. Don’t be too focused on getting all the seeds planted by a set time, allow for some freedom to make discoveries & new connections with the natural world.
8. Place seeds in a dish so they’re easier for little hands to pick up. In the past we used to pour seeds from the packet into children’s hands which proved tricky for little fingers to manipulate. Using a dish means it’s easier for seeds to be picked up, & enables the seeds to be observed more closely too.
9. If possible give children their own space in a garden to dig, cultivate & explore. Not only does this encourage independence, creativity, & ownership, but freedom to garden & explore has a positive impact on a child’s wellbeing.
10. Large tubs filled with compost enable young children to independently fill plant pots/containers.
11. If you have no outdoor garden space, how about gardening indoors. A large seed tray or container provides a great space to explore, as well as plant up any seeds. Our Gardening in Small Spaces post has some ideas for indoor gardening, even in the smallest spaces you can get growing.
12. Keep a few seeds back so that once plants are growing children can compare the seed to the plant. This gives them an opportunity to observe the differences, & consider the time it’s taken for the changes to occur.