Jane Wilson shared with Healthy Lombard that a lot of research shows that outdoor social activities and fresh air benefit children’s health. Since they love digging in the soil and getting dirty, what better for the purpose than gardening? It promotes well-rounded cognitive and physical development and puts the learned skills that connect them to nature into practice while they’re having fun. These skills can help them in other areas of their lives as well.
Even if it’s not in an outside garden, pots on the windowsill or the balcony can offer your kid more than just food and flower supply. Read on to find out the 9 main health benefits of gardening for children.
Boosted Cognitive Development
Gardening strengthens all children’s senses – touch, sight, hearing, and smell. The best of all is that, in the end, they can taste the results of their work. This helps children better understand and appreciate the process of gardening and boosts their cognitive development.
If your child is at the age of learning, gardening is the perfect creative opportunity to start teaching them different color names, for example. Growing edible flowers and plants can also develop your child’s taste and help if you’re dealing with a picky eater. Children become more than willing to try new foods when they’re involved in growing and cooking them.
To support your child’s intellectual and cognitive development while gardening together, ask them what steps they undertook the last time they gardened. They’ll describe what they did using the vocabulary they’ve learned, and you can introduce new words to them.
Stronger Immune System
Gardening provides a healthy amount of engaging and moderate exercise. It’s a surprisingly physical activity. Tasks like digging, raking, and composting use a variety of muscles in the upper and lower body. Reports show that children, as well as young people who garden, take more responsibility for their health.
Besides exercise, gardening teaches your child to develop the habit of doing healthy physical activities. This is important nowadays as kids spend most of their time indoors. Gardening encourages them to go outside regularly to get some fresh air, which helps clean out the lungs from any dust and impurities from pollution. They also receive an adequate amount of vitamin D, which is necessary for bone growth and development and helps with calcium absorption.
Motor Skills Development
While gardening, children carry different tools, water, and soil, which stimulates their loco-motor skills and body management. This helps them learn how to control and handle different objects and their bodies. Practicing and honing fine motor skills in children can also improve concentration and learning capabilities.
Healthy Eating Habits
One of the best parts about gardening is getting to eat what you’ve grown. Research on students has shown that young people involved in gardening developed a preference for snacking on fruits and vegetables rather than processed foods. Gardening can be instrumental in preventing not only obesity but also other health problems. When the parents get involved, the results are even greater. Children understand the resources it takes to grow food and the labor that goes into it to bring it to the table.
The best way to learn about food is by going to its source. Gardening can help if you’re struggling to make your child eat their fruits and vegetables. When children are involved in the growing process, they’re more likely to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for their eating habits.
Improved Memory and Focus
Gardening supports memory and helps children organize and plan ahead. This can be especially beneficial for children struggling with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has been scientifically proven that the symptoms of ADHD are relieved by exposure to an outdoor green space because it helps them focus throughout the day.
Studies show that children perform better mentally if they have access to green space. The improvements in memory and attention are even more significant if children engage in outdoor activities, such as gardening. Besides supporting memory, consistent involvement in gardening can contribute to improved alertness, cognitive abilities, and social skills.
Introduction to Math and Science
Many parts of gardening introduce children to basic concepts of science and math. This can be counting seeds, petals, or leaves and measuring water or soil depth. It requires crucial reasoning, planning, and organization skills. Do a little research with your child on the various stages of growth, the flower planting calendar, the tools, their purposes, and the different uses of the plants. Explain how the sprouting process works and why plants require sunlight and water to grow. After that, encourage them to decide the best position for a plant depending on the sunlight it will receive, the quality of the soil, and the amount of space and water it needs.
Gardening is science, but it’s also an art that can develop your child’s creativity. What your garden looks like and how it’s aesthetically arranged is also essential.
Relieved Stress, Less Depression and Anxiety
Going outside and simply lying on the grass can calm you down when you get frustrated. Nature has that effect on people. Even if you’re not joining your child, gardening allows them to be alone and at peace by themselves. Research shows that its calming effects extend beyond the act of gardening. Those involved in it find life more satisfying and feel like they have more positive things going on.
The act of gardening as a therapeutic treatment is known as horticulture therapy, and it’s shown to be particularly effective in rehabilitation after an illness. Inhaling the scents of different plants has been a centuries-long practice for reducing stress, inducing better sleep, and fighting depression and even inflammation. The smell of the flowers and soil helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Besides that, gardening is a great way to show children that making mistakes is okay because they can learn from them. Maybe your child will under or over-water a plant. Perhaps they will plant something during the wrong season. It’s a constant learning process that teaches your child to keep trying.
When children undertake a gardening project, they learn that it’s their job to care for a living organism daily. This is crucial for a child’s ability to grow and learn. Creating a checklist for your young gardener can help them cope with that and understand their role in the process. It’s a great way to help them develop confidence and independence by being in charge of different tasks, which will make them feel capable.
Learning a Variety of New Skills and Information
People of all ages enjoy gardening, but children, in particular, gain unique benefits from it. Besides being educational and helping them learn new skills, it teaches them the love of nature. They can learn about the natural world in a safe and pleasant space. Gardening is also an excellent way for your child to learn patience – something that many kids struggle with. It teaches them cooperation and strengthens their sense of community in achieving a common goal. By spending time by themselves, your child will already learn to relax and suffer from burn-out less in their later years.
Many beneficial outdoor activities provide health benefits for children, but with the advancement of spring, what’s better than bonding through gardening? Besides the typical activities, such as planting, mulching, reeking, and weeding, it’s also possible to include the arts and crafts, such as creating planters from plastic bottles, planting stones as markers, and making pots from old containers. In the end, your young gardener can help you cook a delicious meal with the food you’ve grown.
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