If you are a parent, then you are probably grasping for anything you can get your hands on to keep your little ones entertained during this coronavirus shutdown. Enter, gardening with kids - the perfect family activity that's both educational and active. Here are our top ten tips for starting gardening with your children:

  1. Keep it Small: Don't take on too much at once. Start small and keep it manageable for your child. You don't want to overwhelm them or make it feel like a chore. Start with just one plant per child or family member, depending on their age.
  2. Own it: Let each child select a plant to care for. Creating ownership for the plant encourages interest and responsibility for its care. 
  3. Go for Results: Choose from plants that will give quick results and aren't slow-to-grow.
  4. Go Edible: There's nothing like rewarding the fruits of your labor with actual fruit! Choosing vegetable and fruit plants to grow in your garden will provide positive reinforcement that good garden habits pay off. Not only that, it encourages children to eat healthy, a win-win!  Strawberries, beans (Jack in the Beanstalk in real life!), and cherry tomatoes are all easy.
  5. Go Pretty: If fruit or vegetable plants aren't your thing, try selecting brightly-colored flowering plants in your child's favorite color. Be sure to choose something that will bloom in the season you are planting. Check our monthly garden guide for ideas. 
  6. No Yard? No Problem! Choose compact plants that won't outgrow the container you have space for and the hours of sunlight.  Remember that if you choose to primarily keep your plant inside, you will need to ensure it gets proper amount of light and water. 
  7. Be Consistent: Set up a time each day to spend gardening together. Set a timer if you need the reminder. Consistent gardening not only pays off in the form of healthy plants, but encourages responsibility and accountability habits that will last a lifetime. Plan to dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to check in with your child and their plant for water and any signs of distress. 
  8. Keep it Interesting: incorporate interesting mini lessons on nutrition, earth science, photography, measuring, history and more. 
  9. Develop a Plant Log: Date planted, measure inches of growth each week, note date it flowers, produces fruit, any problems and how to fix.  These lessons can be great segways into a school-based curriculum!  
  10. Keep it Fun: This is your opportunity to let your children get a little messy and have fun! Encourage children to spend time singing and talking to their plants (and dancing). The more fun they have, the more likely they will continue gardening for life!

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