In a world where children are constantly exposed to wars, terrorism and daily images of violence, how do we teach our children about love, care and compassion for all? How do we teach them to nurture and protect everything and everyone around them? How do we make our children see and experience the positive side of life?
All human beings have an inborn compassion, a desire to care for; we just need to nurture that compassion from an early age. As parents, we are in a position to do that. We can show to our children that the world is beautiful and full of wonderful creations, that there is great joy in giving, caring and nurturing. There are many ways of showing them the positive images of life, but gardening is probably the simplest and most rewarding of all.
Kids and gardening go hand in hand. Gardening connects them beautifully with the world and life around them. It not only teaches them about soil, ecosystem and food chain and but also instils those valuable feelings of care and compassion for living beings. Most importantly, gardening nails the concept of interdependency. Children understand from an early age that every living thing on this earth needs something else to thrive, and “giving back” is the only way to create a sustainable world.
So let your children dig into the mud and dirty their fingers. If you need some inspiration, here are some tips on how to get the little green fingers busy in the garden.
- Set aside a small garden area exclusively for your child. When children own something, they feel more responsible towards it. You could put a small colourful fence around it or even have a little board, like “Jamie’s Garden”. If you don’t have a garden, give them a couple of pots. Label the pots with your child’s name and laminate with a clear tape. Place the pots in an area with adequate sunlight and teach your child how and when to water the pots.
- Let your children choose what they want to grow. If they like to grow flowers, give them some flowering plants or seeds that are apt for the season. Seasonal plants grow pretty fast and don’t require much maintenance. Your children will love it when they see a quick bloom. Seasonal flower beds also attract butterflies and bees, which makes the experience even more exciting for kids.
- Growing vegetables builds an amazing sense of confidence. Growing a plant from the seed, harvesting the vegetable to cook a meal, and sharing the meal with family members- This entire experience can have a positive impact on a child’s behaviour and self-confidence. If your children want to grow vegetables, give them something that’s easy to sow and grow. Vegetables like tomatoes, herbs, carrots, cucumber and lettuce are ideal for kiddie gardens. Most of these vegetables can also be used in making simple dishes like salads, soups or pasta.
- Grow foods that they love to eat. Children take pride in their produce and love to eat what they grow. What better way than this to encourage healthy eating habits?
- Every once in a while, get them some gardening toys, buckets, watering cans, kid friendly rakes and attractive pots to sustain the interest in gardening.
- Give them a gardening diary or journal to maintain. Let them keep a record of everything they do, from digging the soil and sowing the seeds to harvesting the produce and cooking a meal.
- Invite your friends, neighbours or family members to see what your little gardener has accomplished. Share pictures on social media and let your children read the comments. Little words of praise and encouragement will always motivate them to keep up the good work.