Health Benefits of Gardening for Your Child
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy
During these days’ children are spending more time indoors. And their education has mainly become online work. Their social activities are also highly limited. This situation is not ideal for their good mental and physical health. Parents are trying many ways to keep them happy, relaxed and active during these days. Out of the many activities and ways to keep them mentally and physically balanced and fit, gardening is one of the most productive activities as well as a therapy for children.
Spending time outdoors among nature improves a child’s mental and physical health in many ways. Getting fresh air and sunlight, contact with soil, seeing the greenery, listening to the chirp of birds, seeing wildlife, planting, watering, and seeing plants grow are invaluable contributors to a child’s wellbeing.
Physical health benefits
Scientists say that planting, weeding, digging, raking, and mowing are considered physically intense and avid gardeners can easily exert the same amount of energy as running or going to the gym. So making children engaged in such activities that are suitable for their age and strength is physically beneficial.
Motor Skill Development
Gardening helps children to improve their motor skills such as; build their muscles in arms and legs, build endurance and hand dexterity, develop hand and arm strength, posture, fine motor coordination.
Stronger immune system
Scientists say that children who are exposed to microorganisms in soil develop a stronger immune system. Northern Illinois University states “It’s no surprise that many children that are raised on, or around, a farm are generally healthier than those that aren’t. This is because regularly these children are exposed to dirt, animals, pests, bacteria and everything else that send modern-day parents running. While we like to think that dirt, animals, pests and bacteria do more harm than good it’s actually the opposite. When your children come into contact with these things naturally (outside) and regularly, they are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies.”
Exposure to sunlight is giving them their dose of natural vitamin D and being outside in the sunshine can alleviate symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Personality development and mental health benefits Reduce depression and stress
Lawn mowing, raking, and gardening can reduce depression, according to a 2018 survey published in the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry. Also, gardening is a great time for children to bond with family members. This definitely helps boost their happiness and makes them relaxed.
Imagination and creativity
Gardening helps children to improve their imagination and creativity. Children may imagine what will happen if trees, flowers, birds and butterflies could talk. They will even imagine tree fairies and talk to them as friends. Creating miniature fairy gardens, water features, bird feeders will be a great place to explore children’s creativity and imagination.
Connecting and grounding
As new scientific research reveals, touching soil and plants will let nature’s energies flow into our bodies. Also, making them see and understand other lives apart from humans such as caterpillars, birds, and worms they learn about kindness, love and compassion. And also it is important to make children see how a tiny seed grow into a plant and bear flowers or fruits/vegetables or to see how little caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies.
Undertaking garden projects teach children how to be responsible as they have to take care of their plants not letting them wither. Also taking care of plants and to see how they are thriving boosts a child’s self-esteem and confidence and a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
Gardening helps children learn many things and contributes greatly towards their personality development. Children learn colours, sounds, numbers, quantities, time and names by engaging in gardening.
Planning which is essential in gardening improves a child’s ability of critical thinking as well as creativity. Learning about reuse and recycle is another vital skill children learn through gardening.
Introduction to Science & Math
Children learn the basics of maths and science through gardening. They learn how to count. They also learn about plants, soil, water, animals, air and sunshine. Children also learn which plants may attract which bugs and birds, which plants grow together and about the elements a plant needs to grow.
Patience and learning to appreciate little things in life
One of the most important lessons a child will learn is patience. The time waiting for a plant to grow and bear flowers, fruits or vegetables will teach a child many things. Also learning that every seed doesn’t grow into a plant and that some plants wither, children learn how to be patient and start from the beginning once again.
Children feel, smell, see, touch and understand colours, shapes, sizes, quantities, wetness, dryness, and sounds when doing gardening. They can also sense taste once their plant’s bare fruits and vegetables.
Starting from physical health benefits to mental health benefits, personality development and life-skills, gardening is great for children. Especially during these days when children are restricted to homes and online education. So encourage them to keep their electronic devices away and get dirty.