According to recent research, only one in five children have a “connection” with nature. So, it’s never been more important to start early and ignite a love of the great outdoors. However, with the threat of coronavirus and many self-isolating indoors, many of us will miss out on some good old fresh air. From improving our mental well-being to making us more active, gardening is a great health booster. The Greenhouse People give the lowdown on how you can get your kids into gardening and enjoy the health benefits of being outdoors…
Think big, start small
If you’re trying to get your child or children into gardening, it’s important to start small to make sure their first experience is a positive one. Don’t bewilder them with anything that takes a great deal of care or a lot of time to grow. Easy flowers which they can grow from seed include sunflowers, marigolds or dandelions. Naturally, make sure you keep an eye on them to avoid any disasters, but letting children take ownership of looking after their plant is a great way to teach personal responsibility and boost their confidence.
Don’t be afraid to make a mess
There’s no getting around it, children are messy. Gardening can be a great way to channel their messy instincts in a constructive way, from pulling up weeds to digging holes, it allows them to get their hands dirty… and it doesn’t matter! Buying kids a set of child-friendly mini gardening tools can make them feel like a bona fide gardener, while also helping to develop their fine motor skills in the process.
As we all know, what we eat can have a major impact on our wellbeing, both for better and for worse. With so many of us failing to consume the daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, it’s important to establish good habits early. Introducing your little one to gardening could help them to understand where their food comes from. Start with fruits and vegetables that are relatively easy to care for and require minimum upkeep like peas, radishes, carrots, lettuces and strawberries. If you lack square metres, don’t fret. Try growing plants in containers if you have a small patio or balcony, or even window boxes failing that.
Keep things interesting
Children’s minds tend to wander, especially if they don’t find an activity interesting or stimulating. So, make sure to offer positive reinforcements when they’re doing a good job in the garden. You can even make up games and reward them for completing little tasks, like watering the plants, picking fruit and tidying up after themselves.