“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow“- Audrey Hepburn.
Gardening is one of the important life skills that I would like to teach my little Jing Jaang. Often, toddlers are considered too young to be involved in a garden. But the truth is “it is never too early or too late to learn”. Little D likes to water his plants daily where he patiently fills his watering can (ofcourse,with a little help from me) and makes sure every plant is watered. There is something marvelous about growing your own food isn’t it? If you haven’t watched ‘How old are you?’ or ’36 vayadinile’ movies yet, then please do so to comprehend what it feels like 🙂
It is double the fun for kids when you let them put their fingers in the soil and play with water. All I did was to teach him the right names for all the flowers, fruits and vegetables and very quickly he was able to name each of them in the terrace garden. The ever so inviting purple hazed brinjal and the captivating red tomatoes were always appealing to him. With the mention of the word gardening, his face brightens up like a morning glory 🙂
Start with something easy like a small rose flower/shoe flower and teach your little one to care for them and take responsibility for it. There is a sense of pride in taking ownership and it becomes a natural thing to care for the plant. We let D pick the flower that blooms and put that special flower in a vase. You could also try this with your little one. Help them fill the vase with water through a funnel to avoid spills, give a sponge to clean up if there are any water accidents.
Growing a plant teaches patience, helps them to connect with nature and also learn colours & names of the flowers. Use small pots and watering cans which is the right size for your child. Cute colorful watering cans are available on amazon at a reasonable price which your lil one would be fascinated to get his/her hands on.
Let them get their hands soiled in the dirt and explain it to them how much magic this soil does to germinate seeds, produce and have them picked for a scrumptious meal. Talk to them about earthworms and why it is called a farmer’s friend. If you have an older kid,take this opportunity to discuss butterflies, pollination and photosynthesis. Have a bird feeder and a water bowl to learn to care for the birds.
Give your child a small basket in which he/she could collect the produce and lend a hand for you with chopping. Our jing Jaang has a wooden chopping board and a butter knife which he uses to chop the tomatoes while we make lunch (Don’t get me started on the mess after that. Besides that’s half the fun). While having your meal, talk to them how the vegetables came from their garden to your plate.
Got a picky vegetable eater? Have that vegetable grown in your garden and see how much their preferences change once they see them grow first hand. Moreover there are many art stuff that could be made that engage gardening. Pick a fallen leaf and dry them on a book, have vegetable mark paints done, stick on ladies finger on their body and explain how much sticky a ladies finger is. There is so much to teach our kids about vegetables & fruits, growing them in one’s backyard/balcony/terrace help them connect well with nature.
Grow aromatic herbs like mint, tulsi, coriander (easy to grow these) and have your little one experience the aromatic flavors as well. Talk about fragrances and the flavors infused when you cook them. Grow different textured plants and let them touch and feel them. Grow carrots, small onions and radish which you pull from the soil and get help from those small fingers to do soJ. Have some bright colored flowers and let your toddler call out the colors they see.
If this was of any help share your little fingers at work .
Happy Gardening 🙂
Note: If there is space constraint, try container gardening with small herbs.