Teaching the young ones (or even the older ones) the important virtue of patience is difficult, but it does not have to be done in such a challenging manner after all. Gardening can help you reduce the “are we there yet?” or “can we have dessert yet?” sort of questions that we all get asked on a regular basis.
The hands on approach that gardening requires makes your children get stuck and in and wait for any sort of result, and works much better than just saying “not yet, just wait!” repeatedly. My own little one, Toby, has been helping out in the garden since he was 2, starting off with just the little things like pretending to water the tomatoes in the Crane Garden Buildings greenhouse we got shortly after we moved in.
Now he’s 4 and he has his own little area in the greenhouse! He’s successfully grown tomatoes, peppers, chillies and cucumbers! Admittedly, he needed a little helping hand from time to time, but that’s all part of the fun. He loves our routine of regularly watering the tomatoes, and names all of the veggies he plants and decorates all of the pots we use by hand, with the plants names.
Here are some great tips for gardening with your kids
- Be patient yourself! If you see your child making a mistake, only correct them as much as you need to. You want them to stay confident enough to stick at it, so if they’re doing something that sets off the green fingered alarm like planting seeds in no particular order, let it slide and let them learn!
- Give them their own space! By giving them their own space, you’re actively encouraging them to take ownership of the plants they sow, and this makes them happy when their plants progress. It also has the bonus of making the rest of the garden off-bounds, which is always a plus!
- Start with a fast grower! While it’s all about teaching patience, the interest will be slim if you’re sowing a seed that takes 3 years to reach maturity. You want to start with things that your kids can see growing in a few weeks, like radishes or baby carrots.
- Involve them in caring for the garden! Involving them regularly in the garden will let them see the plants grow bit by bit, and reinforces the hard work and effort they put in when it comes time to harvest your crop!
Does it really work?
It does! Toby has sowed crops a couple of times, and is much more patient than before. He also loves eating all the veg we grow, which is a massive plus! As well as living healthier, being able to wait for good things, and providing mummy with a bit of help in the garden, Toby is well on his way to becoming a pro gardener (well, not quite yet, he still loves to dig up the seeds after a couple of weeks to say hello and make sure they’re not lonely!).
Overall, I think it’s been a really valuable experience from start to finish, giving us the opportunity to spend time together, away from the TV and the iPad. He’s learning the key skills of planning, sticking to a schedule, and learning to respect nature.
How have your experiences with gardening with the kids been? Please, do let us know in the comments below!
By Michelle Barber. Image: simpleinsomnia