Do you kids love playing in the dirt? Start a garden, and let them get as dirty as they want. As your family works together to grow yummy food and fresh flowers, teach important life skills right in your backyard.
Give Them Fun Tasks
Your kids probably won’t need any encouragement to work in the dirt, but you can always add games to make gardening tasks more appealing. Give them a small spade, and tell them to dig for worms or buried treasure. They’ll gladly dig holes all day before you insert the seeds.
They’ll also enjoy watering the garden. Every day, they can carry small watering cans or the hose to the garden. As a reward, let them run in the sprinkler for a few minutes after they finish giving the garden a drink.
To you, weeding is a chore, but your little ones will do most of the work when you challenge them to a race. Teach them to identify the plants you don’t want them to pull then assign a row to each child. Whoever reaches the end of the row first wins an extra snack or a later bedtime.
Pests often live in gardens and destroy your hard work. Arm your kids with a magnifying glass and a bucket of soapy water. Any worms or bugs they find will die in the water then you can treat the pests as you work together to keep the garden stay healthy all summer.
Look for Teaching Opportunities
Gardening provides fresh produce and gorgeous blooms for your table, but it also provides teachable moments. Look for these moments as you dig in the dirt and care for the plants.
Teach responsibility, independence and sustainability when you give each child a separate area to care for. They can choose the seeds to plant then water, weed and nurture their section. And each child gets to enjoy the first fruits of their labor after waiting so patiently for the harvest.
Spend Time in the Garden as a Family
As with any chore, gardening goes faster if you do it yourself. But your entire family benefits when you work together to cultivate a fruitful garden. In addition to getting everyone outside into the fresh air and away from the computer or television screen, gardening provides hours of opportunity to spend quality time laughing, playing and working toward a common goal. It builds relationships and memories.
Gardening is also convenient. Simply walk outside and start playing. You don’t have to worry about packing a snack bag, being home in time for naps or finding the nearest bathroom for potty breaks.
You won’t spend a fortune gardening. You probably already have all the equipment you need, but take advantage of sales at your local garden center if you need tools or supplies. You can also improvise. Start seeds in empty yogurt cups. Blow weeds into a manageable pile with a leaf blower. Fill clean gallon milk jugs with water. With creativity, start, nurture and harvest your garden on a budget.
What’s your favorite part of gardening? Share your passion with your kids and spend all summer together growing vegetables, fruit and flowers.
About the author: Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master's degree.