When we first moved to Vienna almost 5 years ago, I honestly didn’t think much to our little rooftop garden. Having grown used to a huge backyard in Australia, the space on top of our apartment seemed tiny. However, the global pandemic gave me a brand new perspective, especially when all of the parks were locked up. The rooftop space became a safe haven and a sanity saver all rolled into one once we introduced easy to grow plants into the space.
Gardening is a wonderful way to engage children with nature, promote a sense of responsibility, and foster an appreciation for the environment. By incorporating Montessori principles and age-appropriate tasks, parents can create a safe and enjoyable gardening experience for their little ones.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss safety tips, easy plants for children to grow, and suggested gardening tasks for different age groups.
Safety First: Keeping Your Children Safe in the Garden
Before your child gets their hands dirty, it’s essential to establish some safety guidelines to prevent accidents and ensure a positive gardening experience:
- Supervise young children closely, especially around tools, chemicals, and water features.
- Teach your child to identify and avoid poisonous plants and stinging insects.
- Provide child-sized gardening tools and gloves to reduce the risk of injury.
- Depending on where you live and the season, you may need to apply sunscreen and insect repellent, and ensure your child wears a hat and suitable clothing to protect them from the sun and insects.
- Opt for organic, child-friendly soils or natural fertilisers, especially when gardening with very young children
- Store gardening chemicals, sharp tools, and machinery safely out of children’s reach.
Easy Plants for Children to Grow
Sunflowers: Fast-growing and visually stunning, sunflowers are perfect for young gardeners. They can be grown in pots or directly in the ground, and their seeds can be harvested and enjoyed as a healthy snack.
Radishes: Radishes are simple to grow, mature quickly, and can be harvested within a month of planting. They introduce children to the excitement of growing their own vegetables.
Cherry tomatoes: These small, tasty fruits are easy to grow in pots or garden beds and provide a delicious, healthy snack straight from the plant.
Snap peas: With their sweet taste and crisp texture, snap peas are a fun and rewarding crop for children to grow and pick.
Marigolds: These vibrant flowers are easy to care for and can help deter pests in the garden, making them a practical and attractive addition.
Montessori and Educational Philosophy in the Garden
Gardening with kids: Suggested Tasks by Age Group
Please note that the following age groups are simply suggestions. Always use the knowledge of your child when deciding on suitable tasks.
- Watering plants with a small watering can
- Sowing large seeds, like sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Collecting leaves or flowers for craft projects
- Helping to plant seedlings in pots or garden beds
- Weeding around plants, with supervision
- Harvesting produce, like cherry tomatoes or snap peas
- Planting seeds in trays or pots and caring for seedlings
- Helping with composting, turning the compost pile, and adding scraps
- Learning to prune plants and trim hedges with supervision
- Planting and caring for a small vegetable plot or flower bed
- Assisting with lawn care, such as raking leaves or spreading mulch
- Participating in larger garden projects, like building a raised bed or trellis
- Taking on more complex tasks, like planning and planting a garden layout
- Learning about plant care, pest control, and fertilisation
- Maintaining a garden journal to track progress, successes, and challenges
- Mentoring younger siblings or friends in gardening tasks and sharing their knowledge
The Benefits of Gardening with Kids
Involving children in gardening offers many benefits for their physical, emotional, and cognitive development:
Physical activity: Gardening tasks help to develop fine and gross motor skills and promote physical fitness.
Responsibility: Caring for plants teaches children about responsibility and the importance of regular maintenance.
Patience: Gardening encourages patience, as children learn to wait for seeds to germinate and plants to grow.
Connection to nature: Spending time in the garden fosters a love for nature and a deeper understanding of the natural world.
Nutrition: Growing and harvesting their own fruits and vegetables can inspire children to make healthier food choices.
Confidence: Successfully growing plants from seeds or seedlings boosts a child’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
Overall, gardening is a fantastic way to engage children with nature, teach valuable life skills, and foster a love for the environment. By creating a safe and supportive gardening space, choosing easy-to-grow plants, and incorporating Montessori principles, you can help their children develop a lifelong passion for gardening.