Measurements. Encouraging a child to chart the growth and development of a young plant, by using graphing paper and a ruler or tape measure, reinforces math skills. Transferring growth numbers to a chart introduces your child to statistics and graphing practices. Parents stimulate higher levels of thinking in their child when they ask them to review the data and then push forward with probing questions. How many inches has your plant grown in a day, a week, a month? How much more do you think it will grow and why, enforces a child's ability to answer questions and to make predictions based on data. Why do you think that your plant is doing so poorly? Is the sun too strong where you planted it? Uh Oh…did you forget to water?
Teamwork When children work together in school or community gardens they learn the value of a team. Hard work becomes much easier when one child is joined by another and projects become much more doable with multiple little hands all working together with one goal in mind. The garden is an easy place to grow leadership skills and responsible behavior. By making your child a group member who is responsible for watering, pulling weeds or fertilizing plants you are establishing guidelines which support positive time management and decision making skills and responsible behaviors. Whether a leader or a member of the group, each child has a role and a responsibility which they should be encouraged to fulfill.
Nutrition We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but ensuring a passion for healthy eating can be tough. When children are invested in the planting and nurturing of seeds, parents have created a "hook", a way to ensure interest in what is being grown. Encouraging kids to include their garden delights in their daily meals validates their hard work while promoting healthy eating habits. Start with something that you know your child likes; an apple tree, carrots or radishes as a great way to start.
Self Reliance Every parent wants their child to be able to take care of themselves as they grow and develop. What better way to assure self reliance than to teach your child how to feed themselves? Gardening teaches the value of growing your own food as a means of self preservation. Embracing the process of "from seed to plate" empowers a child with skills they will need to take care of themselves in future years. Along the way they are also assured of learning other valuable life skills which include commitment, patience and how to deal with failure as their garden grows or lags along the way.