Growing a backyard garden is an incredible learning experience for kids (and parents too)! Here are the top 4 reasons why.
For the first three years after Trevor was born, I didn’t plant a backyard garden. Gardening is something I enjoy, and I really missed it. But I was too overwhelmed with my new role as a parent to tackle another care-taking responsibility.
This past summer though, we planted a vegetable and herb garden. And it turned out to be really rewarding for all of us.
Here are the reasons why growing a backyard garden is an incredible learning experience for kids (and parents too):
1.) Let Them Get Dirt On Their Hands
From preschool to swimming lessons to skating practice, I sometimes feel like Tru’s days are too over scheduled.
He’s three years old!
And as for smartphones and devices, Trevor can be as much of an addict as Chris and I!
But when we’re just hanging out at home and Tru’s imagination is running free, I often find him in one place:
Playing in the dirt.
He loves to get his toy trucks dirty – all covered with mud – and then spray them with a hose to get them clean again (we call this game “car wash”).
He loves to sweep dirt off of the driveway and then use a dustpan to pour it into buckets.
He likes to eat dirt, if I’m being 100% honest (I’ll never understand that one!)
When left to his natural devices, Tru just wants to be outside, getting messy, with his creativity wandering…
Trevor likes to spend time in our backyard garden, I think, because it’s his natural habitat!
2.) Help Them Appreciate Nature
Is there a better teacher than nature?
I can’t think of one.
In planting our backyard garden, Trevor has learned the same lessons that I have.
He helped us plant seedlings in our garden.
And he witnessed how something really helpless and tiny can grow into something that is truly thriving and taller than he is!
He loved watering the garden, and he saw bees hovering around the plants.
So he saw something about the interconnectedness of nature. The sun, the soil, water, other insects – it takes a big network of contributions from so many things to help a garden grow!
And here’s another lesson he learned:
Plants are living beings that should be treated with care.
He knows to step carefully in the garden so he doesn’t accidentally stomp on one of our herb plants, fo example.
I’ve learned a lot from growing our garden, and I hope Trevor is picking up on it too.
Nature doesn’t necessarily do what you want – we’ve had beetles attack a basil plant and mold kill a zucchini plant.
But nature does, generally speaking, overcome obstacles and thrive in its own time.
And here’s another thing: nature remembers you and includes you, always.
I love stepping into our garden and seeing a perfectly ripe tomato, seemingly just waiting to be picked … by Trevor and me!
It’s as though its sole purpose is just to be seen and tasted by our family.
3.) Encourage A Love For Fresh Fruits and Veggies
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had with Tru: picky eating.
He eats a very small selection of fruits (sometimes apples, watermelon, or strawberries).
And he refuses to touch any vegetables.
But being so deeply involved in the garden growing process, Trevor has (at least!) a greater awareness of fresh fruits and veggies now.
He’s tasted a few of the things that he helped grow: tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and chives.
Not that he’s gobbling these foods up!
He’s only tried tiny bites.
But he will step out of the garden saying things like, “I love tomatoes!”
I consider that something.
I don’t think he’d have tried any of the veggies and herbs he tasted this summer if he hadn’t helped grow our garden.
4.) Enjoy Some Quality Time Together
When it’s time for me to head to the backyard garden, I always ask Tru to come with me.
And he almost always wants to join.
He wants to “pick the fwuits and vegetables.”
He almost always wants to pick chives, which he’ll then give to me to use for dinner.
The chives are “his” since he helped to plant them in the soil.
He insists on picking all of the ripe tomatoes himself: “no Mama, let me pick them!”
And he likes to check on the squash and cucumbers to see how well they’re growing.
These simple, peaceful moments with Trevor are the ones I love more than anything.
For a few minutes, we pay attention to nothing but each other.
He’ll put some fresh chives and ripe tomatoes into my hands and say, “I love you Mama,” and I know: the littlest moments are the greatest ones.
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