Gardening with Kids

Apr 26, 2023

Is there anything better than teaching kids how to do something you love? The delight on their faces for being included and brought into a special moment with you is wonderful, but with gardening there is more: a valuable seed of knowledge gets buried…and it will continue to sprout forever.

Working with plants is one of the top skills that can be passed from generation to generation…and it can start with you. Whether you grew up with your hands in the dirt or not, you can begin something with the kids in your life right now that could become a legacy.

Grow Skills That Last a Lifetime

There’s something about creating a memory together that causes a skill to stick. The physical act of poking a seed in the soil, raking old leaves away from a spring-budding perennial, planting a tree as a team will remain in your child’s core memory bank forever. The first time a child ever does something, it creates a unique neural pathway in their brain that shouts, “This matters! This is important!” and carries with it a tendency to continue doing that action more to see where it leads. Kids are designed to learn and keep learning.

Start with buying a packet of seeds and plant them in some soil with your kids. Let them do all the work after you show them how the first time.

More than the first action, repetitive actions have even more sticking power. Things like regular watering, weeding and harvesting may not be as fun as planting, but they create mental pathways that will reap successful results not only in the garden but also in the kids. Repetitive action cultivates responsibility, resilience and dedication—all components of strong character and growth-oriented mindset.

Work together to create a plan of how to care for your seeds as they grow. Make it regular, make it fun!

Good for Healthy Development

Gardening builds kids in every possible way. Physically it teaches them that they can do hard things. It allows getting dirty to become part of their life (something not always typical in today's world). The human immune system welcomes and needs good soil microbes—they’re more beneficial than we could ever know! Of course, the fresh produce they’ll taste will help them prefer good food for the rest of their lives. Anyone who’s eaten a tomato straight off the vine knows that.

Buy fresh produce and take it outside to eat it in the garden…then when your plant produces its own fruit, eat it there too! Talk about the ways good food affects the body in good ways.

Mentally, the lessons learned in the garden mean a thousand times more than those learned in a science classroom as they can see plant growth experientially, feel the soil composition in their hands and wonder how a plant drinks water, why the leaves make food from sunlight?

Read books that answer these questions after a session outside in the garden. This gives kids context for technical information and helps them understand how everything fits together. Stay curious about why and how plants live and grow and adapt and change. Notice new phases and seek answers together!

Social lessons happen in the garden too. Regularly taking care of something trains us to value and appreciate them. Plants are excellent reflectors—they provide a very visual display of how relationships work.

As you and the kids care for plants, talk about how peoples’ actions directly affect the outcome of another’s well-being. In due time we all reap what we sow, for better or worse!

All in all, gardening with kids is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things you can ever do. The results taste great and look fabulous, the lessons learned will spark new conversations and habits you couldn’t have imagined, and chances are you’ll end up being the one who gets more out of it than the kids.