Not much of a gardener? Well neither was I until I worked at a child care centre with beautiful gardens and a natural area where the children had the freedom to discover the outdoors. Every spring, the children, their families, and the staff work together outdoors to dig in the gardens and help out the environment by cleaning up their playground and using recycled materials to improve the space. Many of the plants in the gardens had been transplanted from families’ own gardens.
The children and staff begin the planning for their gardens early in the year. They plant seeds indoors, watch them grow, and then transplant them into their own gardens. Children are encouraged to weed, water, and care for the plants throughout the growing season. How delightful it is to be learning about gardening with children and experience their delight at caring for nature.
When children are given the opportunity to grow plants or vegetables from seed, they learn to appreciate taking care of a plant and watching it grow. As your garden continues to grow under your child’s care, they will learn that daily watering and weeding keeps plants healthy and strong.
If you are a seasoned gardener or just a beginner like me, you can work together with your child to create a vegetable, flower or rock garden. If you have the space, develop a playscape which is rich in natural textures, gardens, hills to run on, trees to hide in and winding paths to follow.
If you plant a vegetable garden you and your child can harvest the vegetables and enjoy eating something you have grown, straight from nature. This is a great way for you to help your child understand the nutrition that comes from food and how that helps our bodies to grow. Through this process children develop a relationship with the land, allowing them to understand and appreciate it.
If you are wondering how to get started with a garden here are just a few ideas:
- Go for a walk around your neighbourhood with your child looking for gardens – this will help you decide what types of plants and gardens your child has an interest in
- Visit a garden centre to get advice on hardy easy growing plants
- Ask your family and friends if they have some plants that need thinning out so you can transplant into your garden
- Get books from the library on seeds, flowers or vegetables
- Search out websites that you can visit with ideas about developing children’s gardens. So many exist.
Once you start gardening, the rewards for both yourself and your child will be worth the time you have invested. Have fun and get growing!
About this guest blogger:
Judy Shaw is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and is currently the Supervisor of Sedgewick Crescent Child Care Centre. She has worked for Halton Region for the past 10 years and has been involved with children and families for over 25 years.
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For more tips and hints about gardening with your child, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly: