We all know how important it is for children to get outside for fresh air and exercise on a daily basis. But what are the specific benefits of gardening for young children?
Here, we’ll explore what gardening can do to support young children in their key learning milestones and in their social and behavioural skills.
1. Gardening helps build fine and gross motor skills
Gardening is a fun physical activity.
It involves all sorts of tasks such as scooping up dirt, laying new seeds, watering plants and raking dead leaves. These tasks require hand-eye coordination, balance, manipulation of objects — all helping young children develop both their fine and gross motor skills.
Through gardening, children also develop their sensory skills through touching the earth, listening to the sounds of the garden, observing the different colours, smelling the flowers and herbs, even tasting the fruits and vegetables they’ve grown with their hands.
2. Gardening supports key learning milestones
Not all early years education happens in structured sessions within the four walls of a childcare centre.
Gardening is an activity that supports all areas of early years learning: counting seeds, measuring and pouring, using words to describe sights and sounds in the garden, and developing an early understanding of science (weather systems, seasons and how things grow).
3. Gardening teaches good eating habits
When children get involved in growing fruit and vegetables, it’s been proven to have a positive impact on their eating habits.
So, while they’re first learning about textures and flavours, there’s a definite upside to introducing horticulture into the mix.
4. Gardening teaches responsibility
Gardening activities introduce a real-life (yet low-risk) application of taking responsibility.
When children plant new seeds in the ground, they need to nurture and care for those seeds so their roots develop, their shoots grow, and the plant develops into maturity.
They’ll be taught how to water the plant, give it enough sun or shade, and do whatever it takes to keep that plant alive.
5. Gardening teaches patience and planning
We all know that gardening doesn’t bring instant gratification. Instead, it requires a lot of initial planning and hard work, and the benefits are reaped over time.
Each season brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. Certain seeds need planting at certain times of the year; different plants need specific types of care depending on the season. Gardening requires categorising, planning and organising, which will stand children in good stead in other areas of their lives.
The concept of patience is notoriously difficult for young children to learn, especially in the fast-paced, instantaneous culture of the modern world. But activities like gardening help children operate in a long-term framework, where careful planning is paid off over the course of time.
6. Gardening teaches social skills
When done in a childcare setting, gardening is a great social activity. It invites children to work together, discuss their activities, share a sense of excitement about what they’re growing and when the first shoots might appear.
It’s these social and interpersonal skills that translate into self-confidence and a great sense of achievement that they will take with them into the classroom later on.
Gardening is a fun outdoor activity that all children will enjoy. It gets them out in the fresh air, fosters a sense of the world around them, and builds their self-confidence.
But gardening can also support young children in achieving their key early years milestones. From maths, science and English, through to social and behavioural, physical and spatial skills, gardening is a perfect setting to provide a whole catalogue of benefits to young children.