Being outside and involved in activities in the fresh air with gentle sunlight—such as gardening—is an amazing experience for many people. But did you know that gardening can also have a great effect on the development of various skills and the promotion of a healthy body for children of all ages? Here are some of the benefits that your children can receive when getting out in the garden.
It makes sense that we tend to love getting to eat what we grow—and so do your children. By getting involved in gardening, children have a chance to take care of their own vegetables and fruits. They will soon learn to love eating spinaches, pumpkins and even broccoli. As time passes by, the importance of healthy eating will, therefore, ripple throughout their lives.
Improving motor skills
If you’re a gardener, you’ll realise that gardening is an excellent physical activity, not just an isolated exercise. As your children bend, stretch, dig, weed, lift, plant and water, they get involved in tonnes of movements that use plenty of muscles in both the upper and lower parts of the body. Therefore, their motor skills will be improved.
When gardening, children have to move all around the garden until the job is finished. So, gardening teaches them a pattern of active routine and contributes to a wider understanding of numerous ways of staying healthy.
Developing STEM skills
More than just moving around and using muscles, gardening teaches your child how to analyse the situation. To do that, parents should ask their children simple questions to encourage them to figure out the best solution. For example, when your child is deciding on a spot to place a tree, ask them: ‘Is there enough sunlight here?’
For further improvement, you can give your child mathematical queries. For example, ‘If the distance between two adjacent spots is 10 centimetres, how many trees can you plant in a line?’ or ‘How many litres of water per day do you need to maintain this potato plant?’ In addition, observing the plant’s life cycle or supervising the insects living around the plant can intrigue and engage your child.
Enhancing cognitive abilities and social skills
School gardening programs have led to a significant improvement in social interactions, group working skills and cognitive abilities. In particular, as students work in the garden with other people, such as their parents or friends, they learn to pay attention, to listen and to follow directions to achieve the best results.
As they spend time watching the growth of plants, they also learn how to be patient and dedicated. The long-term benefit is that children will be more mature in self-understanding and more responsible for interpersonal work.
Half the pleasure of gardening is to commune with nature, green plants, fresh air and gentle sunlight. For children, they will find the peace of mind by themselves, which can be a spiritual medicine after hours of hard work at school. For example, in terms of a psychological aspect, flowers are proven to produce positive emotions that can make people feel happier.
According to a study conducted by Amsterdam Researches in 2011, the level of cortisol—a steroid hormone produced in humans by stress—significantly decreases in participants who access the garden after a recovery period.
As an outdoor activity, gardening is interesting, healthy and educational. Wherever your garden is—a plot of land on the side of your house or pots on an apartment’s balcony—your children can harvest a lot when engaging with it.
By Richard Clayton.