It is time to dig in the dirt and invite the kids to join the fun!
Spring planting time has come! Parents and children are turning the ground, deciding on their favorite plants and getting the food growing.
There are so many benefits for involving kids in the garden not just at school but at home too!
Planning their own plot, putting the plants in the earth and then lovingly tending them as they grow teaches them lifelong lessons.
And then comes the food! Picking their bounty and preparing it for the family is a perfect way to develop a love for eating produce and getting the kids in the kitchen.
Getting hands on with growing and preparing their food has shown through research to benefit our kids because they learn a variety of life skills.
They gain experience and knowledge, not just of nutrition but responsibility, cooperation, creativity, love of nature, science, discovery, and physical activity.
Gardening gives our kids opportunities to develop these traits while having fun.
Age Appropriate Garden Tasks
Most kids will not need much coaxing to join you in the garden.
If your kids seem reluctant, give them their own garden space instead of overwhelming them with the entire plot.
Discuss with the kids which plants attract butterflies or help keep pests away. Each step should be a learning experience.
Do they want to include some flowers, such as sunflowers, in the veggie garden?
When deciding which plants to grow, keep in mind that some are faster growers than others, so these could be added to the younger child’s garden space. Seeds such as beans and lettuce will produce more quickly than others so they will see the result of their handiwork sooner to help them stay motivated.
Every age child can do something in the garden.
Younger kids can water plants, help dig holes, make garden markers, pick flowers, help make a scarecrow, harvest the bounty, or even make a mudpie!
Older kids can help plan the garden, research which plants they would like to grow and the conditions required for optimal growth, turnover dirt, weed, rake, mulch, and help decide when it is time to harvest and then help prepare the veggies for a meal.
The family can take the gardening bug one step further and visit botanical gardens, community gardens, the library, a local farm, or farmer’s market to learn even more about how to add favorites to their own home garden.
Safety in the garden is important too. Teach them the importance of using sunscreen, wearing a hat, avoiding chemicals, and caring for the environment.
From the Garden to the Kitchen
Once your kids have grown foods in their home garden, it is time to bring the harvest into the kitchen!
Meal preparation, just like gardening, can be done by kids of all ages. There is a place in the kitchen for kids, from the youngest to the oldest.
Encourage their participation and let them know that their contribution is important.
You may need to show them what to do remembering that perfection isn’t the goal, rather helping and learning.
If you are concerned about what tasks to give your children depending on their age, here is a age-appropriate guide from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) that you might find helpful.
There are kids-sized kitchen gadgets and tools for all ages to make helping more enjoyable and safe. Having a special apron or kid-sized kitchen utensils will make the job at hand more fun.
Even small tasks help get the meal on the table.
Working together as a family in the garden or in the kitchen makes the job more fun and rewarding for everyone!
Let’s get digging!
I would love to see your photos as you and the kids get dirty!
Here I am with my granddaughter, proudly picking carrots!
We are a little bit messy but the carrots didn’t mind!
We hope you have fun in your garden too!