Having a family garden is a wonderful tool to teach kids the importance of eating sustainably as well as how to be responsible for another living being—but sometimes kids and plants don’t mix well.
We at The Optimist Daily have previously written about how to make your garden pet-friendly. Now, we have some tips on how to make your garden child-friendly so that both kids and plants can flourish.
Space for active play
No matter the size of your garden, it’s important that there is a space for active play. This doesn’t have to look like an open lawn. Children can thrive in all different types of outdoor play areas.
For those with bigger gardens, trade in your uniformly cut lawn for a natural obstacle course or go the extra mile by constructing a sustainable wood jungle gym. For smaller gardens, a single mature tree that’s good for climbing or hanging a swing will do the trick, or you can have your kids help mark out a path around the garden for running or strolling.
Zones for messy play
If you have children, then you probably know that an overly manicured garden is not the most welcoming environment for energetic kids. Make sure not to place too much value on maintaining a perfect aesthetic. Instead, there should be designated areas where your children can feel free to run a little wild and make a mess.
A great way to do this is by installing a ring fence around this space so your kids can identify the area where they are allowed to make mud pies, gather leaves to jump in or splash around in puddles.
Areas to nurture the imagination
A garden can be an amazing source of creative inspiration for your kids. Help them imagine a fantastical space by turning a raised bed into a sleeping giant or encourage them to build tiny houses for the mystical fairies that might visit the flowers they watched or helped you grow.
Spaces for learning
Cultivating your own garden is a fantastic learning opportunity for your children. Get them involved in sowing seeds, and perhaps give them their own space so that they can take control over their own plants once you feel that they’re ready. This can help them see how much impact they can have over the world around them.
Growing food and other resources in your garden can also help your child discover the relationship between their environment and what they eat, and what role they can play in that process. If you do it right, then your kids will be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning.
Space for quiet time
Spending time with your kids in the garden, and actively teaching them about the significance of nature is invaluable. However, ensuring that your children have the chance to commune with and learn from nature quietly and on their own is also important.
You can facilitate this by finding a quiet corner of your garden to turn into a retreat that your kids know they can use when they feel like they just want to get away from it all. You can build a den together, or just create a dense planting scheme that will allow for some privacy and encourage mindfulness.
Wonderful wildlife to discover
Ultimately, the more wildlife you can attract to your garden through cultivating plants that support native species, the more fun your kids will have as they discover these critters.
Being exposed to the simple wonder of nature and how ecosystems work together will not just fill your kids with awe, but will also help them understand that the world is a shared space and that all creatures deserve to be cared for and respected.