Like most sensory experiences, gardening with children can be a hectic, messy and usually, an untidy affair! Children playing with soil, pulling up plants and strewing seeds everywhere however, is a fantastic learning experience and one which allows the development of a whole host of new skills. Gardening activities can provide hours of fun and introduce moments of awe and wonder to children. They can watch plants growing from seeds, and marvel at fruits and vegetables increasing in size as they learn how to feed and nurture them. Children will begin to make the connection that the food we eat begins its life in the soil around us.
Benefits of Gardening in Early Years
There are numerous reasons to get children involved with gardening activities, from encouraging teamwork skills to improving self-confidence, to developing vocabulary skills. Here are just a few of the benefits that gardening can offer to children:
Encourages Interaction and Communication
The experience of growing and planting provides many opportunities for children to talk with friends, family, and other teachers about what they have learnt and practised in the garden. They will enjoy describing their activities and making use of the new words they have discovered.
Motivation to Learn
Learning about sowing, growing, weeding and planting are exciting topics for children. They will feel motivated and eager to learn even more new skills as their experiences in the garden develop.
Caring for Clothes and Hygiene
Taking part in gardening activities involves working with soil, seeds and water. Children will learn how to protect their clothes by wearing overalls and wellies. They will also understand the importance of washing their hands after they have finished their tasks.
Time to get gardening…
Nowadays, children are spending more time indoors than ever before, so it’s vitally important that we encourage every early years setting to plant a garden with their children. The great thing about gardening is that there isn’t a set idea of how to do things. Each garden will be different, from rolling acres to container planting but the outcome will be the same, an enriching experience of awe and wonder. For some children it will be their first opportunity to spend time playing in the dirt, reminding us that for some very young children, the journey is often more important than the destination.
I believe that when your child knows that there will be afternoon tea outdoors, she can't wait to pick up the picnic basket and all kinds of food to play. "Great! Mom!" Then followed the adults excitedly, really looking forward to it!