Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: Gardening with your kids

Friday, May 8, 2015

Gardening with your kids

This week, my kids and I spent some time in the garden, planting seeds, pulling weeds and chasing our puppy out of the flower beds. Kids like to help out in the garden, especially when helping means getting dirty and working with grown-up tools, and gardening together can be a terrific learning experience.

Of course, sometimes it is easier to just do the job yourself and tell your children to go play and stay out of the way, but you may be missing a great opportunity. The garden is a perfect place to involve kids. There are so many lessons to be learned, and so many ways children can help out in the garden and make your job easier. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Water hose patrol

Putting a kid in charge of the water hose can save you a lot of walking, especially if you don’t have a nozzle on the end of the hose with a shut-off valve. By turning the water on and off only when needed, you will help conserve water, and that is important for both the environment and your bill. Children can also learn directions as they turn the faucet “lefty loosey” or “righty tighty” and control the water flow.

Soil management

Even little kids can help with the job of getting potting soil into pots or flower beds. If you lay your bag of soil flat in the bottom of a wagon, and then cut a large X in the center of the bag, you will have a nice, wide opening that kids can reach easily. Pull the wagon right up next to the beds or pots you want filled. Using sturdy scoops, children can then be in charge of transferring the soil from the bag to the designated spot. Any soil spilled in the wagon can easily be dumped out into a flower bed when you are finished.

Mulch distribution

Kid-sized rakes are great for spreading mulch around rose bushes and other hardy plants in the garden. Children can get around flower beds more easily than adults if they are careful not to step on the plants. Mulch distribution can help teach kids about volume, too, as they spread a 2 cubic foot sack of mulch over a bigger surface area with less depth than the sack.

Weed removal

Some kids hate pulling weeds, but some actually enjoy it. You have to make sure the child you enlist for this job is old enough to know the difference between weeds and your desirable plants. Much can be learned about the different plants in your garden as you teach your child what to pull and what to leave alone.

Plant selection

When you are ready to plant new flowers or foods, kids can do a great job of helping to select what varieties to plant. You may want to give a child a bed all of their own, or let them help select plants to go all over the garden. Helping to design the garden and working to care for the plants they chose is a great motivator for a reluctant young gardener.

Getting kids involved in your gardening will not only make your job a lot easier, you may find that it is a great way to bond, too. Shared memories of gardening together are priceless, and some of the plants you grow together can be shared and enjoyed for decades to come.

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