There are dozens of articles out there that talk about the importance of limiting your kids’ screen time. What most of these articles fail to do, however, is offer you alternative activities to keep your kids entertained and occupied and, with any luck, activities that will encourage them to learn. This is not going to be a list of those activities. Instead, we’re going to talk about one specific activity: gardening.
Like knitting, gardening was long thought to be the hobby of old ladies but has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. There are lots of reasons to enjoy gardening, especially as a kid!
Are Flowers Zombies?
Children learn early on that seasons are a “thing.” They understand that the leaves fall off the trees but that, once winter passes, the trees will grow new leaves. They know that new flowers and plants grow from the ground as the weather warms up…except, a lot of the time that’s not true! Most of the flowers and plants out there are what we call perennials, which means that you can plant them once but they’ll keep coming back every year (even after dormant winters). A great way to teach this in a practical way is by planting a few packs of perennial wild flower seeds so that your kids can watch them bloom, fade, and then bloom again. Like a zombie, perennials aren’t killed by cold, they’re only killed by decapitation (so to speak). Or perhaps fairy gardens are more your kids idea of fun.
The First Step to Responsibility
Every kid begs for a pet of their own eventually. They will insist that they are responsible enough to handle the keeping and care of a pet like a cat or a dog. Most parents are hesitant to acquiesce to this request because they don’t want to bring home a pet whose care will, inevitably, fall to them instead of the child who begged for the pet in the first place. Typically parents try to compromise here by starting their kids on small pets like fish or caged animals like hamsters. A better place to start is with a garden! Have your child plant a small garden (it can just be a few seeds in a single pot) and then care for it all by themselves. Pay attention to their dedication to the garden and use that as a gauge to determine whether they’re ready to move on to the smaller “starter” pets. They could build a bug Garden.
Dirt is Fun
Laundry is nobody’s idea of a good time. But going out and getting dirty? That’s something people of all ages can enjoy. Spending some good quality time with the dirt is a great way to get your kids off the couch and away from their favourite screens. And gardening gives your kids something to do to help stave off the usual complaints of boredom or exhaustion. It can be especially helpful for kids (and parents!) who struggle with anxiety and other mental health issues.
Whatever your position on “prepping” one thing is universally true: food that you grow yourself tastes better than the food you buy in the store. Growing your own ingredients is also a fantastic way to save money on groceries. Introduce your kids to the idea of growing their own fruits, nuts, veggies, herbs, spices, etc early on. They’ll develop better palates and will have a better respect for food than those who think that apples spontaneously burst into existence in grocery stores.
There are lots of reasons to get your kids interested in gardening and to garden together as a family. These are just a few of them. Has your family started gardening together? Share your experiences and tips with us!