Our food choices are creating extreme consequences on our health, our economy, and our environment. Young children are being diagnosed as obese, the cancer rate is soaring, climate change is real, and our reliance on eating large amounts of meat is creating a dire need for intervention. Teaching children how to grow food and eat consciously and healthfully has never been more important or more relevant.
Going back to our roots, literally, to teach children how to enjoy food they have grown with their own hands is a necessary but missing piece in traditional education. Teaching these lessons to children will make lasting impact on how they treat their own bodies and the earth.
We know that the experiences we have as children can make a big impact on how we lead our lives as adults. Including children in everyday gardening activities is the best way to ensure that they respect the earth and their bodies in the future.
Here are few ways that you can do this:
First, slow down. Including children in gardening activities means that it will take longer. Sometimes m u c h l o n g e r. Think of it as a way to practice patience.
Second, stop being a perfectionist. When children are involved, mistakes will be made. Try to look at mistakes as learning opportunities and teachable moments. The garden will still grow, but it won’t be perfect and that’s ok.
Third, make it fun! Think about ways to make it kid-friendly. We grow a lot of our gardens in theme beds, such as a salsa garden, tea garden, pizza garden, and “the subway” filled with underground root vegetables. Think of fun themes with your kids and make it happen!
Fourth, let them reap the rewards! Kids love to pick ripe fruits and veggies, so let them be in charge of harvesting. Also, they will be much more likely to eat the food that they have grown and picked themselves.
The Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children’s Learning remind us that “Children learn best through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. And the best place for these experiences is outdoors, in the natural world.”
Click here if you’re interested in reading more about what children gain in the garden – from math and science skills to responsibility, creativity and self confidence!
Visit our Gardening With Kids archives for more fun, hands-on garden and nature projects with kids!