Gardening with Toddlers
As spring time creeps its way into existence a lot of us are searching for ways to share the glory of Mother Nature with our children. There is no better way than to show them how to create life. After all, if you do it right they might just learn a little something in the process, and so will you. Here are some tips to help you get started.
-Engage the child in all aspects of the process. Let them help choose seeds, and pots while talking to them about the things plants need to grow.
-Take the time to find the right equipment. Child sized spades, and gloves can be found at Target. Pay attention to the seeds you choose for the child to work with, something that sprouts quickly will help the child understand the process and become more excited about it. As adults we know that something beautiful will eventually grow, but this isn’t a known fact for toddlers.
-Decide if you want your toddler to be involved with your whole garden, or if they will have their own section or pot. I recommend the latter. This way the child has freedom to cultivate and explore their own space without doing (unintentional) harm to other plants.
-Now that the materials are arranged it is time to choose a day and get to work. Choose a day and set aside time so nothing will have to be rushed. In the time leading up to this point open the discussion about what you are going to do and why. Start to point out to the child how trees and plants are blooming.
-Get planting! Do not be afraid of getting messy. Half the fun of the journey is the mess made along the way. On the same note be understanding to toddlers who do not wish to get messy. Many toddlers do not like the feeling of dirt, wet dirt. In this situation be cheerful and encouraging, without forcing the child. They will jump in, in their own time.
-Make a point to check/water your plant daily. This will become something the child anticipates and looks forward to, especially once blooms begin to appear.
-Try and try again. If at first you don’t succeed, do some research and try again. If you get discouraged so will your child.
-Include the child whenever and however possible. We may hate pulling weeds, but children love it!
-Sunflowers and morning glories are good flowers for beginners. Tomatoes and cucumbers are good veggies to start with but do require patience.
Good luck on your gardening journey. Remember all things in life are teachable moments if we make them so. Gardening can open the conversation to many topics. If you and your child discover a new bug do some research together. Use a clear cup with older children so they can watch the roots sprout and grow. Have fun, get messy, leave your comfort zone, you and your child will be glad you did.