“Where does the cheese grow, Mommy?” When I heard that question, my heart stopped.
There must be something seriously wrong here. Even if it was a joke! Kids are spending more time in front of the TV and surfing the Internet than exploring outdoors, not even to mention the farm or the garden where the fruit trees and the vegetable beds are.
They don’t have a clue about planting and agriculture. Therefore, there is no respect given and no knowledge gained. They don’t know how much time, water, and sun the flowers, vegetables, and fruits need. They think we just have it and it is how things are.
Let’s see what we can do with toddlers:
- For babies who can’t walk yet: smelling the different types of flowers, blowing a dandelion, digging with a small spade, and watching ladybugs.
- For older babies, who can walk: planting flower seeds and vegetables seeds to the potsherd or a balcony pot, planting seedlings of onion, watering with a little can, helping move the potting soil with a little wheelbarrow, putting the wilted leaves in the bag, sweeping, shoveling the snow in winter time, feeding birds, and making a birdfeeder.
Which skills are being developed during garden works?
The first and most important thing is they are outside and getting fresh air. Active and running kids need a lot of movement. Unfortunately, the TV and the Internet consumes most of their time. Gardening is a very good anti-stress solution.
It develops the kids’ dexterity and color-and-shape recognition. The sight of the different colors, the smell of the fresh spices, and touching and holding them develop their senses too.
Helping them understand the cycle of nature,
cause-and-effect relationships, learning to like animals, maybe even those that were scary for them before like bugs and spiders. Gardening is teaching them responsibility, kids will learn that if they don’t take care of what they planted, their plants can easily die. And the very important thing for the kids when it comes to gardening is the sense of achievement they get for doing it. From the small seeds - with water and sun, and a little care - one real plant will grow. A real one! And the taste of our own vegetables is not comparable with vegetables from the supermarket, which are travelling for weeks to get here.
A nice idea: to write a Gardener Calendar
A calendar for kids where they can find the current to-do list, for example: time of planting vegetable seeds, this is possible on the balcony or even in the window sill. How to grow other herbs, or ornamental plants? From collecting harvests, flowers, and leaves, to stamping and drying. Truly, we can find something to do every month.
Kids will love nature, if they get a chance to get closer and know more about it. They will be very grateful if they have parents or a teacher who can show them around and help them explore that fantastic world called: nature. And they won’t ask silly questions like where cheese grows and so on.
It is our responsibility to grab them and take them out from the room, make them see the world from a different view. Because I know how important computer is in their life, but I also know that if they don’t know nature, they will be poor adults. Poor at heart and soul, to go out and be there gives you so much energy, and the land, the trees, the grass, all the flowers and the birds, and everything just makes us happy even if we are sad.
With that said, I wish you a wonderful exploration…