After months of cool weather, the first hint of spring will likely have the whole family eager to dive into outdoor activities. This year, as you begin tackling the garden, find ways to get the youngest family members in on the action, too. Not only is gardening an activity you can enjoy together, there are numerous ways to incorporate age-appropriate, teachable moments from counting and colors to responsible care of living things.
Creating a positive first experience with gardening can start with this simple advice:
• Dedicate a spot for a junior garden, which allows you to instill a sense of pride and ownership in the little gardener while protecting your own garden areas from ambitious young hands.
• Provide appropriate tools in child sizes. Just as you would teach a child the finer points of baseball using a bat and glove, demonstrate the joys of gardening with tools such as a rake, hoe and trowel, all of which can be found in sizes more manageable for little helpers.
• Let the kids choose what to plant. Whether flowers or food plants, allow children to make their own decisions (within reason) about what they would like to grow. This can help them engage in the magic of watching items they selected emerge from the ground and grow into their finished forms.
• Encourage exposure to unfamiliar plants that entice the senses with appealing smells and flavors. Herbs such as chives, mint and basil are good choices, or consider edible flowers such as pansies or violets.
• Set an example for your child to imitate by giving regular and proper care to your own garden. Remember to bring the lesson full circle by enjoying the bounty of your garden together, whether it’s a small hand-cut bouquet or a meal featuring your child’s fresh-grown produce.
Find more tips for gardening with your kids at eLivingtoday.com.