Gardening is for you, no matter your age or experience, but it is especially good for children as they learn key motor skills, a bit about patience and an appreciation of the natural world around them.
The Great Outdoors is, as its namesake suggests, GREAT, amid growing concern that our young people are spending an increasing amount of time indoors and are not as in touch with the world outside as they should be, or as much as 'we' used to be. We often reminisce fondly about days spent collecting tadpoles, making homes for worms, building dens, picking flowers, making daisy chains and helping parents and grandparents seed, grow and harvest the produce of the kitchen garden.
It seems that we are right to encourage time spent in the garden too, aside from making great memories there are some fantastic benefits of spending time outside as children grow up:
Gardening can be an adventure filled with lots of new discoveries and an understanding of the natural world.
They learn about different plants, how they grow, what conditions they need to flourish and their relationship with beneficial, and not so beneficial creatures!
It will give them a sense of responsibility as they learn about caring for their precious seedlings, and it will definitely encourage patience!
Importantly they will learn about the seasons and how our gardening activities are closely related to the annual calendar, which will naturally lead on to an understanding of our climate, and the possible implications of global warming.
Teachers and parents can closely link many garden-based activities to the curriculum too: weather, life cycles, animals and other wildlife, pollination and even botanical based creative arts such as leaf printing and nature drawing.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is incredibly satisfying and children love taking ownership of this process, and proudly enjoy eating produce that they have grown themselves.
The nutritional value of fruit and veg straight from the plant is higher and the fun of picking what you have produced yourself really encourages children to enjoy these foods with less fuss.
They don't just get the health benefit from the nutrition either, they also get to spend more time being active working and playing in the garden, whilst getting lots of fresh air.
Plus, they will learn about when to harvest and maybe even how to cook with freshly grown produce too, an important life skill!
Spending time gardening can be a sensory explosion:
Smell: they can experience a wide range of scents from flowers and vegetables to earth and even compost!
Textures: children will enjoy getting hands on with soil, seeds, leaves, petals and more.
Sights: not only will they get to see the wide range of colourful plants and flowers but also the variations in creepy crawlies too
Sensations: being outdoors they will understand the feel of the seasons on the skin and sight from cold winter winds to warm summer breezes, life giving raindrop and baking sunshine.
Taste: the icing on the cake is getting to test out the flavours of things you have grown, they particularly like the thrill of learning about edible flowers!
Gardening can be a very socialable activity - be it with friends in school or clubs, where they will need to work together, or at home with family where special bonding can take place.
Time spent outdoors, working on garden-based projects such as growing seeds, gathering leaves, choosing plants and flowers and even remove unwanted slugs can involve important discussions, problem-solving and learning to work and communicate with others.
Plus, it can be great fun, especially if you try to guess which plants and seeds will be the first to pop out of the soil!
Here's some great ideas to get you and your little ones started:
Building your own low cost bird feeder can be quick and easy when you know how. Follow Sainsbury's Bank Money Matter's simple step-by-step guide to make your own and start attracting beautiful birds into your garden >
There are a great range of bushcraft courses, workshops and forest schools suitable for children and families across the UK. Bushcraft courses cover survival training, wilderness and foraging skills. You'll learn about equipment, surviving in the natural environment and, most of all, the joys of having an outdoors adventure! Take a look at the range of courses on our website here >
If you enjoyed reading this you might like to read: Grow your own (delicious) organic produce – easy tips for a climate resilient garden >