As you might imagine much of our time is spent in the garden. The kids are outdoors as much as possible (when the weather is cooperative). I don’t think just being outdoors is enough, being in the garden is where children should be and here’s why:
- Gardening gets kids active physically. One big issue facing our country is childhood obesity and getting the kids active in the garden is one great way to get kids moving. The other day I spent an hour pulling weeds and I felt like I had just been to the gym! Kids can pull weeds, dig holes for plants, move mulch around with child size wheelbarrows, and all kinds of other activities.
- Gardening exposes children to the process of growing food, good healthy food. Not the mass produced heavily sprayed crops from the grocery store. Seeing how the food is grown builds an understanding of what it takes to bring food to the table and an appreciation for everything from the tomato to the common carrot.
- Gardening brings children and wildlife closer together. Do you think playing a video game indoors in the living room would have brought my children to see this little box turtle? Butterflies and dragonflies don’t come in our house normally either, although we recently invited one Black Swallowtail caterpillar inside to learn about it’s life cycle. That’s the kind of stuff kids can’t see if they don’t get outdoors! Gardening brings everyone closer to nature. It’s completely unavoidable. If you are in the garden nature will find you whether it’s a nifty insect, beautiful bird, annoying plant raiding rabbits, or a wandering deer. The close proximity to nature teaches people to appreciate it for its beauty and helps us to learn how connected we are to the great outdoors.
In our neighborhood very few children venture outdoors enough. There are lots of children here as evidenced by the school bus stops each weekday morning, but where are they when not in school? I would like to encourage all parents to put the video game systems away for a week, send your kids outdoors, and get those kids active. They may not like it at first but I’ll bet your kids will be much happier!