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Gardening with kids is the only way gardening happens around here. My kids love to be included in the garden, but it usually has to be on their terms. If I were to announce a family weeding session not only would they run and hide as fast as they could, but they would probably end up weeding the wrong plants because they are so young. Here are some strategies I use to encourage my children to garden with me.
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How To Enjoy Gardening With Kids
Give them their own space to dig, water, plant, and play freely.
Kids are kids, and chances are they are going to trample something. Make sure they have space to romp like a herd of elephants, dig, and drive trucks around without stressing you out. My kids love to pick certain flowers to use in their mud pie creations, and get really excited when I tell them they can have ALL the dandelions, or as much feverfew as they want. Because we have a small yard they have a stump set up under the cedar tree and their swing set is also under the cedar tree. It’s a tight fit, but it’s nice for me to be nearby as I do my own outdoor work. They also really enjoy having their own tools. I really like this set because they are wood and metal, and look and feel like “real” tools.
Tell them the purpose of each plant.
All three of my daughters recognize dandelion leaves, and will even pick dandelions for our rabbits when we are at the park. Harvesting is always a blast. If I ask for help in picking fruit or cutting salad I always have a chorus of volunteers. Try not to make too big of a deal if some of the harvest ends up eaten or on the ground.
Locate gardens in frequently used places so it’s easier to do a little each day.
Kids sometimes lose interest quickly, and probably will get bored in a marathon weeding session. If you do just a few minutes each day you can care for the gardens without the kids dreading it. If you just can’t move your garden try putting some fun items nearby to help keep them entertained a little longer. I had a tire swing and a rope ladder hung in my goat yard because playing with the goats and chickens NEVER took as long as my own chores, and the swings help buy me a little more time.
Share Why You Love Gardening
When you head out to the garden mention casually your favorite parts of gardening. For me I love how much better the food tastes when we grow it yourself. Or you can read books that talk about gardening with kids as well.
Let Them Help With Important Projects
Kids appreciate when you include them in your own projects. When you let them participate in something big they have a sense of ownership and pride for the result. My husband made a raised bed with the help of our (at the time) five and six year old daughters. Even though projects make take longer, you are building memories, self confidence, and their own abilities. There’s usually some way you can include kids in your projects, even if they are very young.
The thing about gardening with kids is it’s not going to be perfect. Try not to worry too much, and maybe plant extra plants because invariably accidents happen, like the two year old “weeding” the carrots.
I’d love to hear more ideas from all of you gardening with young ones. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know how your kids help in the garden!
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