A number of studies have shown that plants can benefit children's health, improve mood, performance and productivity - and most importantly increase academic achievement.
Communing with nature pushes the "relax" button, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and produces positive feelings. We consistently suggest incorporating gardening and plants to the parents and educators we work with, and as promised, we have some suggestions for how to do just that.
Prepare them with gardening books.
Even before you get dirty, introduce your little one to gardening through books. This is a great way to incorporate reading and learning while simultaneously getting them excited about gardening.
Let them contribute to the garden in meaningful ways.
Participation gives kids a sense of empowerment and makes them feel valued. The more ownership they feel they have, the more important the practice of gardening becomes and the more naturally a sense of responsibility can be instilled. Not sure what constitutes "meaningful ways?" Try these suggestions:
Let them choose the brand or color of gardening tools.
Let them decide between your list of top items to plant.
Let them choose their gardening outfit!
Have them name the plants. (Be prepared for some simple or outrageous names!)
Give them their own garden beds.
Make gardening activities into learning games!
Gardening isn't just a great way to incorporate nature and a sense of responsibility into your everyday activities. It's also a great way to bring a little fun to the aspects of learning that kids can sometimes find boring (Math, we're talking to you!). Try a few of our favorite ways to make gardening into a game of knowledge.
Count the seeds.
Use a ruler to measure the space between plants.
Play a fun game of "Name That Plant!"
Write stories about your plants' journeys.
Create gardening art projects!
Gardening doesn't have to be all about digging, connecting with nature and learning academic skills. It can also be a great opportunity to hone those art skills. Get your creative juices flowing with these ideas, or try a few of your own!
Paint rocks with the names of plants or a drawing to use as markers for each plant.
Draw labels on pots.
Make pots out of milk cartons or other creative vessels.
Paint garden furniture.
Establish a routine.
It can be a challenge to get kids to sit still and complete their homework and study. Create a daily routine with gardening. Have them water the plants before they sit down to study. The act becomes a subtle, physical cue to transition to study time.
Gardening is good for all sorts of reasons, and studies show that's not just in our imaginations. If you're looking for a way to incorporate learning, enhance your child's life and increase their connection to nature (a proven positive relationship), gardening is the way to go!