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Wonders of Gardening
By Siti Nadiah Binte Mohd & Fiona Ng . The Little Skool-House At-Pandan-Gardens
Is your child a picky eater? Are you struggling to get your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet? Gardening might just be the crucial solution to your problems! In our little city with limited space, all you need is a few containers, soil, a sunny spot and love for nature to grow some herbs and sweet cherry tomatoes that your child will not be able to resist.
Getting in touch with nature can support children in learning new skills, do something fun with people and develop their self-confidence and self-help skills by spending time in the garden, tending to plants and growing their own food. The wonder of seeing a garden might spark your child’s curiosity and inspire him to ask questions like “Why do plants need sunlight?” “Why are worms good for the plants?” Take the opportunity to add a little numeracy element to the conversation by counting the flowers on each plant or measuring how the plants have grown on a weekly basis. Supplement their experience with books about plants, a day out to the Botanical Gardens or engage them in crafts to create a photo journal of the plants’ growth. As they tend to their plants, children will learn about responsibility, a love for nature and increased awareness of how the outdoor environment is a safe and pleasant place.
Even if your kids may not love the food that they have grown initially, encourage them to keep tasting and trying. This will increase their exposure to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Besides consuming the food, the act of gardening can promote a healthy body and introduce your child to basic ideas of environmental sustainability. Seeing food grow from seeds can be quite an experience for our children who usually buy food from the supermarket or cooked food stalls.
Most children love the outdoors, getting dirty and creating things. This might seem overwhelming to parents initially, with the concerns of hygiene issues. However, physical activities such as transferring soil and digging into dirt benefit children not only in the enhancement of their gross motor skills but also reduce their phobia and resistance to ‘dirty earth’. Touching the plants, soil, and being in touch with the natural environment can be therapeutic and calming for over-active children too.
In this electronic age, children need time for more active learning, be it with their family or peers. Gardening allows for a lot of meaningful social interactions among people and develops children’s co-operative and communication skills. Furthermore, the self-fulfillment a child gets from eating vegetables and fruits that he/she has grown are priceless.
For many children, gardening may be their best chance to learn about the concepts that underlie all life on earth. So, there you go! What are you waiting for? Time to get your shovel and start planting away with your child!
1. Fernando, N., & Potock, M. (2016, March). Gardening with Kids: How It Affects Your Child’s Brain, Body and Soul. Retrieved from PBSParents: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/03/gardening-kids-affects-childs-brain-body-soul
2. Michaelis, A. (2010, September). Learning Naturally - Gardening with Children. Retrieved from National Childcare Accreditation Council: http://ncac.acecqa.gov.au/educator-resources/pcf-articles/Learning_naturally_gardening_w_chn_Sept10.pd
3. Victoria State Government. (2017, June). Gardening for Children. Retrieved from Better Health Channel: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/gardening-for-children