Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Gardening with Kids
Today I was out working on a couple of my gardening jobs. At the first one, I was strictly weeding and mulching, trying to finish up this yard. The family came home early, as their middle child had just graduated from kindergarten. She's a sweet kid who used to attend my school. I'll call her "Beth".
Beth and I always got along quite well when she was at our school. Every year when I come to work in her yard, she is always trying to help me. She is very good at following directions, so I can usually set her up with a simple task while I do what I need to do. But every time, as soon as she says, "I'll help!" her mom freaks out and tells her to play somewhere else or just stay out of my way.
Maybe I am just used to little kids helping me out because I teach young children. Maybe I am just flashing back to when I was a kid and how badly I always wanted to help my father out in the yard. And I remember how crushed I was when he would tell me that I couldn't help with a particular project. (Though I was/am stubborn and persisted until he found some kind of task for me.) But usually I can find some sort of task for a young child to do, that keeps her out of my way yet is helpful in some sense. And believe me, Beth is much less of a pain to handle than some other children I've had to deal with!
So, anyway, as I was going around mulching the remaining little areas, I set Beth up way ahead of me, showing her which weeds or grass to pull, and allowed her to use my little trowel. She was content to be working alongside me and was proud of the contribution she was making. And she did get a lot of those weeds dug up! She wasn't a problem in the slightest.
Even on Sunday, her barely-turned-three-year-old brother was out digging away trying to help. I just set him up in a corner that he couldn't hurt, gave him my little trowel, and let him go!
Last year, another little girl named "Erica" wanted to help me plant flowers. I showed her how to push the impatiens up from the bottom of the six-pack and let her start laying them out. After her mom freaked, I simply popped them out for her, laid them out, dug the holes, then let her put them in and fill in the hole. I adjusted any that needed help after she went in to eat her dinner.
So, there are lots of ways that your children can learn by helping you out in the yard. Take advantage of these teaching moments, because they are receptive to listening to what you have to share. Consider how much they will absorb simply by observing you in action. I think I learned more by watching my dad than any reading or research I have done on my own, just as he learned from his grandmother.
For some other tips on gardening with kids, read some of these articles:
Simple Ways to Include Your Young Child in Gardening Activities
Grow a Salad Garden with Your Children
How to Include Your Young Child in Gardening Activities
How to Grow a Salad Garden with Your Children