Gardening: Teaching Children to Love The Earth

gardening teaching children to love the earth

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Cicero (106 BC –43 BC)

The look of wonder in a young child’s eyes reigns eternal, as the magic of a bean sprouting in a paper cup reveals itself.

The bean emerging green from the earth begins a youngster’s understanding of a law of the universe. The Law of Abundance. Plant a bean. Protect the sprout. Transplant the seedling into fertile soil. Water it.  Wait and watch as the plant matures, producing hundreds or thousands of new beans. Abundance.

As we garden with children we help unveil the wonder of life. In return, the child’s excitement and joy renews our own delight in the earth.

From the beginning, we intuitively know the power that resides in the soil of our planet.

“Might I have a bit of earth,” Mary asks in The Secret Garden. In this classic story, Mary’s instincts lead her to dig in the dirt and nurture sprouting plants. The mysterious force that Mary finds in the garden heals, not only herself, but everyone around her.

The truth in the proverb “He who plants a garden plants happiness,” is revealed in the story of The Secret Garden, and each and every time we plant a seed and nourish life.

Gardening involves a myriad of activities that enchant children.

Digging in the dirt. Shoveling mulch. Raking gravel. Looking under rocks. Deadheading flowers. Using a watering can. Placing tendrils around poles or trellis openings. Washing pots. Filling and pushing a miniature wheelbarrow. And of course, harvesting and storing the crops. Children, who would never eat a cooked green bean off a dinner plate, devour handpicked pods from the vine.

Think back on your experiences in your backyard or garden and try to give them to your children. Jot down those ideas and create them.

Children love hiding spaces.

Beanpole teepees make a cozy spot, especially if a stepping-stone is added to the center. Sunflower rooms can be made by planting four or five rows of sunflowers around a square, leaving the interior for a secret space. A morning glory roof can be added to your house of flowers.

Make sure your yard has “a bit of earth” that can be enjoyed just for digging.

Child sized gardening trowels can be purchased inexpensively at your local discount store. Three or four square feet of defined digging space will be a joy to your young child.

Remember, safety first.

Be sure to show your child how to be safe with tools. A few common sense rules help gardening run smoothly. No running with tools in your hand. No throwing tools. No hitting other people with tools. Or one concise positively stated rule: Always use tools properly and safely.

A steady regimen of rules and routine can destroy a young gardener’s enthusiasm. Better to enter the garden in an adventurous and expectant mood in search of miracles. A bud opening. A butterfly in a chrysalis. A worm crawling. A bee gathering pollen. Tasting the first strawberry of the year.

Four square feet or four hundred square feet, it doesn’t matter the size. Garden with your children. You will be planting happiness

Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy is a favorite inspirational book for gardening with children.

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