Never too early to start

It’s never to early to start gardening , infact the earlier the age the better. Gardening for kids provides so many benefits to a child’s development. From the sensory from digging and playing with dirt to learning new skills and learning about nature. Gardening is a fun activity for children and should be kept simple. There is some evidence to suggest that children perform better mentally when they have access to green space . With even some suggesting that some of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be relieved by green space i.e gardens

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Geraniums in flower in the garden  (May 2016)

My daughter started to ask me to let her water the garden when she was about two and a half. I must confess it can be a bit tricky to be accommodating when you have your routine in the garden and a little person wishes to ‘help’. However the benefits of getting children to garden and love gardening far-outweigh any hiccups along the way and the reward you get is that’s they get a better appreciation of plants. However, you’ll have to accept that kids will get mucky and often times soaking wet. So if you are particular about dirt you’ll have to compromise. You’ll also have to accept that if they help water with a hose you might get sprayed on and your unsuspecting plants may be temporarily drowned by the deluge of water from the hose or watering can. For me it was: how do I convince a two and half year old child at the time that she needed to put more pressure with her hands on the hose pipe, and that simply spraying for five seconds and moving off to another plant wasn’t sufficient. And that the shrubs didn’t need pegs on them and that pulling a bluebell from mummy’s plant pot and offering to me was sweet but not the right thing to do. That mummy preferred daisies to be picked off the grass because flowers from a plant pot were put in there deliberately. The list goes on.How do you handle that and more? No easy way, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t raised my voice a few times, or threatened an immediate end to being outside in the garden if she didn’t pay attention to what I was saying. But , I’d say that it’s all been part of the experience of learning and growing and I believe very strongly and sincerely hope that this is an activity we’ll keep doing together as mummy and daughter.

Two weeks ago, I bought some violas because my daughter had been bugging me about planting some more flowers . Her face was such a delight as with guidance and some help she planted her very first set of flowers in the plant pot. This week we hope to plant some sunflower seeds, a good choice for gardening with children. I sincerely believe it really is never too early to let your child garden and experience the outdoors. Al I’d say is make sure it is a safe place and keep all tools secure and away when not in use and closely supervise especially little ones.

Last week a report (1 )by the King Fund London confirmed what we already knew. Gardening can improve both physical and mental well being across the life course of an individual. At the risk of starting to sound like I’m writing a report for my day job here is what I can surmise from improving mental health and increasing physical activity levels gardening has the potential to be a preventative measure for a variety of ill health conditions. While the evidence around this issue is complex and diverse it suggests gardening is not just a pastime, it’s good for your health. Another report published in 2014 also provides some credible evidence on the impact of gardening on mental well being. Gardens can reduce stress and depression in several ways mainly through visualising the natural environment, being able to immerse oneself in the the natural environment and lastly being able to engage and do an activity in the natural environment.

My garden is nothing like the show gardens at Chelsea flower show this past week or those featured in gardeners world magazine , but maybe someday it’ll be. It’s however a place where my family and I can relax, we can plant and see things grow and can teach our child about nature, about creation and about the Creator.

References

  1. http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/gardens-and-health
  2. http://static1.squarespace.com/static/5466246be4b05136ac82d254/t/55f2a175e4b0d9d331c5ed39/1441964405905/GrowingHealth_BenefitsReport.pdf

 

Copyright 2016 Rachel McIlvenna

 

 

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