It isn’t a tough sell. Playing in the dirt is awesome and kids’ natural curiosity will get them interested. Here are a few tips for uprooting the children out of the game room and replanting them in the garden.
Set aside space for their projects
A well-defined area, no matter the size, is an important part of getting children involved in gardening. Just like having their own bed to go back to at night, their own flower bed gives them a grounding in the garden. Kids like to know what is “theirs” and what isn’t.
Ask them what they want to plant
The kids can choose between flowers or edibles or even edible flowers! Visit a local nursery or look up what kinds of plantings would work best in your temperate zone and with your shaded or sunny garden plot. Ask at the nursery how much water and space the plants will need. Younger children should start out with plants that germinate quickly or seedlings so they don’t lose interest.
Supply them with kid-sized tools
Little fingers need little gloves and spades. Ever try to drive a huge vehicle? It’s frustrating, scary and dangerous. They feel the same way trying to dig up some rocks with your tools. Find ones that fit their hands.
Put dates on the calendar
Managing expectations is one of the better parenting strategies. Mark the kitchen calendar for weeding and watering days. Remind them of the upcoming days and give a good estimate of the time it requires.
Celebrate each step
If you don’t already, establish a private place online to share photos of the process. Kids love to see themselves on screen. They also love to share their accomplishments. (Important tip: Always ask their permission to share any information or images of them.)
A key to keeping kids interested in gardening is to let them decide how they will enjoy the bounty of their own hard work. If they want to eat their strawberries instead of making that pie you’ve been wanting, let the kids eat them. If they want to skip the tomatoes, they can experience the joy of giving them to a neighbor or fresh-food pantry. Once they feel the full joy of growing something useful, they may grow a bit inside as well.