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I spent a lot of my childhood in and around the garden. Reflecting on this happy time, I feel it’s an experience I need to share with my children, as well. If you have kids or grandkids in your life, getting them in the garden can teach some vital lessons and offer some incredible benefits.
1. Family Time
In hectic world that we all inhabit, children need and crave time with their parents. Time spent in the garden calms the mind and reduces the stress of the day for both adults and children. Working together teaches them cooperation and teamwork in a non-competitive environment where important bonds can be forged for life.
2. Food-System Awareness
Gardening shows kids that vegetables and fruits come from plants grown in the ground not the grocery store. The idea that farmers and gardeners are the people that produce our food is an important lesson that many kids are surprising unfamiliar with. The food you grow not only tastes better but can introduce kids to a whole world of new foods.
3. Learning Opportunities
The simple act of seeing a seed grow to maturity or a plant flower and then bear fruit is a fascinating experience no matter your age. Fascination leads to understanding, as kids learn about cause and effect. For example, plants die without water and weeds compete with plants. Reasoning and discovery follow as children ask questions and learn about science, botany, nutrition and entomology. These lessons can build a love of nature that will last a lifetime and hopefully be shared with the next generation.
4. Healthier Kids
Gardening gets kids outside and away from the computer, the endless stream of television channels, the ubiquitous smartphone and video games. Exercise from gardening activities can help your keep kids fit and healthy. As an added bonus, children are often more excited to eat the nutritious fruit and vegetables that they grow.
5. Responsibility and Self-Confidence
With all the garden’s daily tasks—like weeding, watering and harvesting—caring for a garden and tending to plants teaches kids personal responsibility. Successfully raising a crop to fruition can also help develop self-confidence in a space where it’s OK to make mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, my mother loved to tell a story where I, at about 3 years of age, accidentally picked half the immature cauliflower crop as a bouquet for her while playing in the garden.