With summer fast approaching, it’s time to get the kids outside!
From improving our mental wellbeing to making us more active, gardening has never been more popular. Following National Gardening Week, the country’s biggest celebration of gardening, experts The Greenhouse People give the lowdown on how you can plant the seed and share your love of gardening with your children…
Think big, start small
If you’re trying to get your child or children into gardening, it’s important to start small to make sure their first experience is a positive one.
Don’t bewilder them with anything that takes a great deal of care or a lot of time to grow. Try easy flowers which they can grow from seed, including sunflowers, marigolds or dandelions.
Naturally, make sure you keep an eye on them to avoid any disasters, but letting children take ownership of looking after their plant is a great way to teach personal responsibility and boost their confidence.
According to recent research from RSPB, only one in five children have a ‘connection’ with nature. So, it’s never been more important to start early and ignite a love of the great outdoors.
To get them inspired, why not plan a trip to one of the UK’s many beautiful gardens one weekend or during the school holidays?
From taking a leisurely stroll through the gardens which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution at Down House in Kent, exploring the exotic greenhouses of Kew Gardens or Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, to enjoying the stunning grounds of Tyntesfield, getting youngsters out and about is one of the best ways to introduce them to nature’s delights.
Don’t be afraid to make a mess
There’s no getting around it, children are messy. Gardening can be a great way to channel their messy instincts in a constructive way, from pulling up weeds to digging holes, it allows them to get their hands dirty… and it doesn’t matter!
Buying kids a set of child-friendly mini gardening tools can make them feel like a bona fide gardener, while also helping to develop their fine motor skills in the process.
As we all know, what we eat can have a major impact on our wellbeing, both for better and for worse.
With so many of us failing to consume the daily recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, it’s important to establish good habits early.
Introducing your little ones to gardening could help them to understand where their food comes from. Start with fruits and vegetables that are relatively easy to care for and require minimum upkeep like peas, radishes, carrots, lettuces and strawberries.
If you lack square metres, don’t fret. Try growing plants in containers if you have a small patio or balcony, or even window boxes failing that.
Keep things interesting
Children’s minds tend to wander, especially if they don’t find an activity interesting or stimulating. So, make sure to offer positive reinforcements when they’re doing a good job in the garden. You can even make up games and reward them for completing little tasks, like watering the plants, picking fruit and tidying up after themselves.