Kids thrive outdoors and nature is the ultimate sensory experience. But often it’s tricky to engage younger children in the garden. Capital Montessori had a fun workshop with Montessori Mentor and Coach, Pam Shand on Gardening with Children. Here’s what we discovered.
Adults and parents are great role models – be enthusiastic, show them that spending time outside in the garden and gardening are fun!
Prepare the environment – have good quality child sized tools and a well-organised garden workspace.
Keep tasks small and show your child what to do slowly e.g. how to plant a seed in the soil, water the plants, pull weeds, harvest fruit and vegetables or cut flowers.
Using the example of cutting a flower, there are so many things a child can learn, including: the fine motor skills in how to use scissors to cut the stem, maths in counting the petals, studying and learning the names of the parts of the flower, and putting the flower into a vase.
Children love and connect easily with flowers of every sort, but especially smaller ones that are easy to cut with a pair of scissors, like marigolds, lavender, poppies, sweet peas, jasmine, daphne, pansies and many more. They also love berries, fruit trees and vines, and enjoy growing and harvesting their own vegetables. Favourites are pumpkins, summer squashes, easy to pick salad leaves, corn and beans. Let them forage straight from the garden – sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, celery and peas are all good for this.
Other fun activities are making seed pots out of paper, germinating seeds indoors and growing plants from cuttings. Kids thrive outdoors and nature is the ultimate sensory experience. Learning about where our food comes from is also a valuable life lesson. The garden is a great place to slow down with your child and just wonder together about the mystery of the natural world. Time in the garden together is a precious gift.
Pam Shand is an independent Montessori consultant, mentor and coach. Pam has spent 30+ years leading both early childhood and primary Montessori programmes and brings that experience to her work with teachers, centres and trusts.