Since we started our garden in November we’ve been trying to find more and more ways to get the kids involved in tending to it.
I’ve found that by including them in the process they’re not only more willing to actually eat what we harvest, they also are less tempted to start playing in the garden with trucks, balls, dinos and airplanes.
Those get left in the sand box where they belong! Below are a few ways to get your kids involved in the yard whether it be tending to an edible garden or picking the weeds in the flower bed.
Sticking to a Routine
Every morning we have a routine. I get up, start the coffee, check my email and wait for the kids to wake. My son usually sleeps in a little longer than my daughter so she and I spend a little time together before he starts to stir.
Once my son has woken up we head outside to pick up the newspaper and water the garden. We name off each of the plants as we water them to make sure none of them get missed. I’ve found that this is a great way to remind the kids of what we are growing and also gives us the opportunity to check on each plants development and growth.
Since he LOVES watering our plants I also let him water the lemon tree when needed and the plants in the front yard. Once everything is watered we grab breakfast and then head back outside to enjoy a morning of play. By creating this routine we make sure to always carve out a bit of time during the day to tend to the garden.
We usually add a healthy dose of competition when we work in our garden. I try and challenge my son to a game of who can pick the most weeds. This not only gets him excited about picking weeds but also lets us practice our counting and sorting. By looking at the plants to determine if it’s a weed or a fruit/vegetable plant, he starts to tell the difference between the two. And each weed he pulls is a point for him so being able to count only makes winning easier. Since he can only count to 9 for now we usually end when he reaches 9 and I reach 7-8 (“letting” him win usually leads to more eagerness to help the next time).
By letting my child know that he’s responsible for helping keep the garden free of pests and weeds he seems to be more proud of the garden itself.
When guests come over and mention it he’s very quick to let them know how he helps me and what’s planted. He knows that he is a part of the process as much as we are.
I’ve found that when a child has a responsibility (even at the age of three) they see things differently. They’re more apt to listen and they’re proud of their accomplishments with the responsibility they have.
I hope that these little things I allow him to do will lead to greater accomplishments and responsibility as he gets older.
When it comes to choosing what we plant in our garden we always allow our son to choose one plant (or more) of his own. Most recently he chose to plant strawberries in our edible garden. And boy does he watch those plants like a hawk! He’s so excited about actually being able to pick strawberries of his own.
As he waits for his strawberries to grow he’s surprised us by eating the lettuce that’s growing rampant right now. Seeing him choose to eat veggies from the garden and watching his excitement as we pick and clean off the food is amazing. I love that he hasn’t grown tired of digging in the dirt, watering the plants and picking weeds.
He’s quite the big helper. I can’t wait to expand his palate with more things we plant as the year goes on. I hope that my children continue to help in the garden and hopefully one day start gardens of their own!
If you’re considering planting a small garden of your own I highly suggest letting the kids get involved! You’d be surprised with how much interest these little ones show in learning about where our food comes from. And you might just find that this activity helps grow more than just plants and veggies.