Is your child completely in the dark about the process of growing food? Has he or she ever planted seeds or picked their own vegetables?
If they haven’t been exposed to a backyard vegetable garden, this summer would be a great time to change that.
Gardening can teach kids about responsibility, how things grow, and how long it takes to grow something that takes such a short while to eat. It can also encourage healthy eating!
By letting your kids feel involved in the gardening process, you can foster a lifelong love of growing their own produce. Here are a six ways to help kids feel invested in a family garden.
1. Give Everyone Something to Do
Kids like to feel useful and they love getting their hands dirty. In fact, when it comes to most kids, the dirtier the job, the more they like it.
Teach your kid to love gardening by making sure that you’re actually letting them participate. Watching everyone else get to do the cool stuff isn’t nearly as fun as getting to do some of the tasks for yourself.
To make sure you aren’t accidentally sidelining your child and wondering why they’re getting bored, write out a list of tasks that you’re reserving just for your child. It may be planting seeds, turning on the sprinkler to water your plants or pulling random weeds that appear.
2. Give Them a Little Corner of the Garden For Themselves
Ask your kids what they would like to grow and then give them the space to do that. Don’t micromanage their choices.
If they wants to plant pumpkins, but they don’t grow well in your soil, you can explain. But let them try it anyway. At the same time, encourage them to also plant some vegetables that you know will do well.
They’ll learn just as much from failures as they will from successes. Plus, they’ll be bursting with pride every time they show a friend or a family member “their” garden.
Even if you don’t have much space, this tip will work. Give them two containers in which they can try to grow two types of vegetables.
3. Involve Them in the Planning
If you decide to use the whole backyard for the garden and it’s where they normally do most of their playing, the kids are going to resent the garden. But if you ask them which section of the backyard they think would work best for a garden, you’ll be letting them in on some of the big decisions and the planning process.
Kids will feel more invested in something if part of it is their idea. They’ll be driven to help it succeed.
4. Let Them Do Some Picking
One of the best parts about having a garden is getting to pick the ripe vegetables. When your vegetables are ready, send them outside with a basket and let them have the fun of reaping the harvest.
The kids will be so excited when something unexpected happens, like when they pull on a stem not knowing they’re about to free a carrot from the earth. They’ll laugh when they see what comes out out of the ground, and it will fuel their excitement about next year’s garden.
5. Find Recipes They’ll Enjoy
Encourage your child when it comes to eating their hard-earned bounty. If there’s a vegetable they’re not too jazzed about trying, you may be able to find a recipe that will make them want to give it a go, like these kid-friendly roasted sweet potato bites.
If you have a cheese lover, you’ll be able to find a casserole that you can put some broccoli or cauliflower in.
If you let them leaf through a recipe book, they’ll start to see how versatile their vegetables are.
6. Encourage Them to Share Their Bounty
Most kids are natural-born sharers. They love to make other people happy and show off the spoils of their hard work.
By letting them bring a bag of extra vegetables to a friend’s house, they’ll get to bring a smile to someone else’s face, as well as their own.
Planting a Seed That Will Last a Lifetime
By teaching your child the joys of gardening, you can spark a lifelong interest. Plus, you’ll be showing them the value of hard work and giving them an appreciation for healthy, locally-grown food. Try it!
Jenny is just another mom trying to do her best. She loves spending time outdoors and trying to convince her kids to do the same. When she’s not out in the garden, she enjoys blogging about her struggles and triumphs with breastfeeding, breast pumping tips, parenting hacks & more on Mom Loves Best and on Pinterest.