During our younger years in the Philippines, as kids, we always had an hour or two set aside for gardening in our school curriculum. However, as years passed, this program was soon phased out from some grade school programs, and children lost the ability to be able to watch the pleasure of a plant growing and the benefits of harvesting and eating your own produce. Because we live in a farm, we decided to teach our kids the benefits of planting your own vegetables or flowers.
Many kids nowadays have no idea how to grow plants. Their understanding of growing a garden comes from video games like Farmville, Happy Farm, or Farm Town, but these are a far cry from the real thing! There are many benefits to planting and growing your plants, and this is what we wanted to teach our children. What, you may ask, are its benefits? Let me name a few:
- Environmental Stewardship – kids learn to take care of their environment. When we first began to plant our garden, we decided that we would not use commercial fertilizers, pesticides, or the like. This way, we teach the kids that going organic is the best way of growing edible plants. Plus, we can also teach them that the use of commercial fertilizers depletes the soil of its natural nutrients, and kills good organisms that allow for good plant growth. It also teaches kids of their responsibility to care for and look after the environment.
2. Encourages Healthy Eating – because we have made the decision to not use chemicals on any of our plants, we can confidently integrate our harvest into our daily menu at home, thereby, avoiding the buying of vegetables from markets or grocery stores – and who knows what chemicals have been applied to those vegetables? It also gives them a sense of pride when they eat what they have planted and harvested. What more if they cooked it themselves!
3. Science Awareness – children are able to learn about the science of plants, animals, insects, cause and effect (what happens when a plant is not watered properly or vice versa, or how weeds compete with plants, or what type of soil works with what kind of plant, etc.), they learn about how weather impacts the growth of plants, how taking care of the environment affects plants and things around them, etc.
4. Engages the Senses – handling soil, smelling fruits or vegetables, watching them grow, seeing colors change in ripening fruits or vegetables all contribute to the development of the senses.
5. Teaches Patience – kids develop patience especially when waiting for their planted seeds to grow or when they wait for the fruits to ripen. Seeds and plants take different times to grow or propagate their fruits, so kids learn the art of waiting. In this world of instant gratification, patience is one desirable trait our kids need to exercise often.
6. Physical Activity – children nowadays have become shut-ins because of the age of digital technology. They’d rather stay at home and play with video games rather than go outside and play (like we used to!) Gardening makes them go out and sweat, and do something productive. It’s also a wonderful way to promote bonding among family members.