Working in a garden can be a lot of fun for kids of any age. The different activities that you teach them will be based on their current developmental level. If you try to teach advanced gardening concepts to young children, you may not get the anticipated results you want.
This truth also applies when you teach simple gardening concepts to older children.
It is important to remember that every child is different. If your child develops skills quickly, then you might be able to introduce some elements of the next stage of developmental learning faster than other parents.
Think of this information as more of a guideline than a firm set of rules.
Garden Tips for Preschoolers
Preschoolers like to get dirty. They catch animals, move dirt, and maybe pull a few weeds. You’ll find more success encouraging kids to plant seeds from the apple they just ate than from a seed packet. The goal at this age is to explore the garden, embrace the soil, and have lots of fun.
Garden Tips for Kindergartners
Once kids start going to school, they begin to crave their own secret spaces. Now is a good time to give them a spot in the garden that is their own. Let them plant whatever they want, with some help, of course. Build a fort in their section of the garden. Help then gather their supplies. If no work gets done, then let that be okay. Let them be in charge of the process.
Garden Tips for Elementary Students
As children begin to learn reading, writing, and mathematics skills, you can start teaching them the scientific basics of gardening. Talk about how many days the plants go between watering cycles. Have them look at the bugs in the garden. Let them pick dandelions to create gift bouquets. You can have them start reading seed packet instructions too. You can even give them some money to let them buy their own plants at the nursery.
Garden Tips for Middle School Students
Once kids reach 5th grade or so, they’re ready to take over every facet of gardening – with your supervision, of course. You can teach them how to harvest seeds and turn that venture into a business. Their fruits and vegetables can be entered into local competitions. They can begin adding new structures to the garden if they want. It can be fun to encourage kids of this age to create small indoor gardens that can be donated to assisted living centers, nursing homes, or individuals who are considered shut-ins.
If your children decide to continue on with their gardening adventure past middle school, then get them involved in family projects. Let them do some landscaping. Enroll them in 4-H programs or an equivalent to enter competitions. In the teen years, a love of gardening can blossom into a fruitful career, if there is enough interest present.
Kids at every age love to garden on some level. Don’t make the work in the garden be about weeding and the other hard or boring tasks. Let them have some fun, even if it sets your work back a day or two. It’ll be an investment that is well worth it.