PLANT SMILES. GROW FRIENDSHIPS. HARVEST LEARNING.
The past few years, my parents have gotten into gardening. They cleared some space in our backyard and built two planter boxes. They planted a stalk of green onions and now we always have a supply of them in our garden. Need some? All we need to do is go outside and snip the amount we need. It’s great. Then my mother started growing zucchini. It’s a real easy vegetable to grow. It can take over the garden. The downside? We now have tons of zucchini! My mother tries to find any way she can throw zucchini into our dinner. Gardening isn’t as bad or hard as you think.
Thinking about gardening? Already have a garden? Here’s some reasons why involving your child with your gardening can help them grow (pun intended).
It teaches them to care for others. Plants are fragile. You don’t want to pull at them too hard or you’ll break a stem. As children learn to work with plants, they begin to understand the need for gentleness. This carries over to animals and even other people. Children are taught to be mindful and considerate of others.
It teaches the importance of pruning. We prune plants to provide extra nourishment to the parts of the plants we want growing. In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples how the vinedresser prunes plants so that the vines that bear fruit become even more fruitful. In our day-to-day lives, we have so many activities going on. The amount of time spent on computers is increasing each year. Studies show that children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on digital media. That’s almost EIGHT hours a day! Imagine what we can do if we pruned away some of that time on the computer or phone.
It teaches science. This one’s kind of obvious, but important nonetheless. Working with plants, students get first hand experience how plants grow. A few years ago, I started a garden at the preschool I was working at. The children LOVED watering the plants. When they first started out, that’s exactly what they did. They poured water upon water right on top of the plants. They thought watering the leaves and flowers would help the plant grow. Little did they know about the entire root system sitting below the surface of the soil. Watering the plants can be a teachable moment in which we teach our children the importance of each part of the plant.
It teaches patience. Waiting for flowers or vegetables to grow can be discouraging. It doesn’t happen overnight. In today’s society, children are so accustomed to getting things instantly. From fast food to internet browsing to streaming, the idea that they are entitled to things NOW floods their minds. Gardening on the other hand, it takes time and lots of care. They work for it.