Get Your Children Gardening!
The summer holidays can be a difficult time for parents, not only because they need to find a way of looking after the kids while they’re out at work, but also because entertaining the little darlings can be very stressful. Rightly or wrongly, they always want to be doing something - or nothing - and as parents it seems as though it is our duty to satisfy that craving.
This could mean anything from taking them to the seaside, to going shopping to find the best deals on next term’s school uniform. You will be trying to establish what to do to keep them happy (and argument free) when the inevitable summer rain arrives and forces them indoors for the day: a parent’s worst nightmare. However the summer months and the rain can be combined in much more productive ways than sitting in front of a games console, and what's more, we can get the gardening done too!
Gardens are frequently neglected during the summer because we just don’t have the time to tend to them when they need it most. The dry weather and summer sun has the ability to “kill off” the lawn and prevent flowers, fruits and vegetables from growing as the roots simply dry out. For many of us, turning the sprinkler on is about all we have time for, having spent the day at work only to return home to make the kids’ tea.
Rather than just letting the garden that we love so dearly fall into disrepair, we could take a few of those rare periods of down time we have to teach the children how to look after the garden. This becomes a win-win for everyone because they can learn about the way things grow, where they come from, and how to plant seeds. This may be useful at some point in science lessons when they go back to school. But in the meantime you get your garden looked after.
To help you to convince them that gardening isn’t the boring activity they think it is, here are five reasons you can give them to don a pair of gloves, put their wellies on and get in touch with their horticultural side.
Firstly, as mentioned, there is a very good chance that some form of gardening will be covered during their time in the classroom. If it isn’t something like photosynthesis, then it may be along the lines of soil and nutrients that help plants and vegetables to grow, or how the frost in the winter can affect growth. If they can learn this kind of thing for themselves, going out and looking at soil samples or adding the relevant water or nutrients to the vegetable patch then they’re much more likely to understand when it comes to the lesson or exam.
Another way is to encourage them to grow something that is specifically theirs. While you might already have a vegetable patch or space in the greenhouse for your plants, giving them their own little project will make sure that they take special care of it. Let them choose their favourite fruit, vegetable or plant and buy the seeds for them and then show them how to plant them. From that point on you can provide the essential advice, but let them tend to their own patch so they can have something they’re proud of at the end and it may encourage them to do something similar again.
Explaining to them what is good and bad for the garden will also benefit both their minds and the garden as a whole. Understanding the difference between a plant and a weed, for example, will mean that they can remove the weed if they see one in the vegetable patch, or in the flower bed while they’re out playing football. Show them how some insects are good for the garden and how bees, for example, can assist with pollination. Or that worms poking their heads up through the soil benefits the plants and vegetables because it allows air and water to get into the soil. Before you know it, they are excelling in the classroom and your plants and vegetables are growing beautifully.
Sprinkling water on the lawn is one of the easiest jobs to do, because you can just turn it on and leave it. By explaining the best time to water the garden (ie when the sun is not at its hottest), the kids can take the initiative to place the sprinkler where it’s needed most; to cool down the lawn or flower beds to provide the much needed water which releases the nutrients plants need. If nothing else, they can play about in the water for a bit which, as we know, they love!
Finally, it the garden gets them outdoors in the fresh air having fun. Gardening is the kind of activity that can either take little effort, or it can really tire them out, depending on the kind of work they do. But there’s nothing better to help pass the summer hours than being in the great outdoors in the sunshine, or the rain, tending to your vegetables or looking after the plants. If we can get our children inspired while they’re young, a love of gardening could remain with them as they grow. A bit like nurturing the plants really….
Note: Please look out for our online gardening course on gardening with children. Coming soon.