It’s that time of year to get your hands dirty and start a garden of your own. What do kids love more than getting dirty? You guessed it: getting dirty and eating food! Gardening can be completely toddler-friendly and fun for both the parents and the children. Let’s look at how this can be done and the benefits of toddler-friendly gardening!
Gardening will stimulate all of your child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory play is wonderful for a growing mind that will encourage a wide spectrum of their development (creativity, cognition, language, emotion and physical growth). Take your time when gardening with your child and explore everything from the dirt to the science behind growing plants!
Learning is a process and gardening is a beautiful avenue to which to harness the kinesthetic, tactile, visual and auditory learning styles. Through the touch of the dirt, seeing the garden grow and following instructions, you can see your toddler’s mind come to life. It’s really for everyone, no matter what way your child learns best.
Choose plants, herbs, vegetables, fruits or flowers that are edible so there’s no worry about hurting your child if they get curious and consume. And what better way to foster a healthy lifestyle than to tend to a garden from start to finish. Plus, fruits and vegetables always taste way better when you’ve just picked them from the garden. I remember last year when my toddler wouldn’t dare eat a vegetable that wasn’t cooked and covered in butter. But, when we explored our garden to find the cherry tomatoes were ripe for the picking, he ate every last one while standing right there in the garden!
Especially for the new little (or adult) farmers, you want to start small. There’s nothing worse that having high expectations and taking on more than you can chew, with an overwhelming outcome. For children, everything in their world is big, but this is something that you can scale down to size. You both will be glad that you started small and have a manageable garden that you can enjoy doing. This should be fun, not work!
From the tilling of the soil and planting the seeds (or seedlings) to the watering and harvesting, they’ll appreciate learning about every step. If your toddlers are like mine, they love getting “big people” jobs and doing it by themselves. They’ll feel a sense of independence and accomplishment when the job is done. Encourage and educate along the way and you’ll have your toddler-friendly garden up in no time!
Who doesn’t love showing off their hard work? It’s especially validating when your parents show off your projects to friends and family. So, make a special trip outside when people come over to give these special garden tours!
“Hard work pays off” can come to life for your toddler when they finally get to enjoy the produce that comes from all of their hard work. What a valuable life lesson that they can take with them as they grow.