By: Vanessa Doyle, Lead Teacher in the Lily Garden Child Care Center Infant Room & Horticulture Coordinator
Pop quiz! Which of these would you like your child to improve on?
- How to make healthy food choices.
- How to cooperate well with others and engage in teamwork.
- How to increase their confidence and self-awareness.
- How to interact and connect with the natural world.
If you agree with one or any of these statements, your child would be a great gardener.
Gardening has been around for so long that people may not realize the positive effects it can have on our children and us. With more processed and highly sugared foods hitting the table, we are further away from where our food comes from than ever before.
Everyone agrees that eating healthy is good. It makes you feel better, gets you a good doctor’s report and prevents disease. But it can be really hard sometimes. After working all day and picking up the kids from school, going to soccer practice, therapy and homework; taking a swing threw the drive-thru seems like the only option available. But this option is causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease not only in us but also in our children.
So what can we do to turn that around?
We can start by establishing healthy eating habits young. These habits will last a lifetime.
Gardening is a great way to incorporate real fruits and vegetables into your home. It provides a learning opportunity for children to see where their food comes from. School or community gardens also offer an opportunity to interact with a group to practice socialization and teamwork. Once youth are involved in the growing process, they gain a sense of pride and ownership of what they created. This makes them more willing to try new foods and share. Often school can be an overload of sensory input. The garden provides a relaxing environment for everybody. Children can explore their senses by smelling flowers and hearing the sounds of nature around them.
How do I get started?
- Gardeners are great sharers! Ask friends, family and even us here at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley. Somebody usually has an extra plant or two to spare or a packet of seeds to share. If you can’t find any, your local nursery can help or you can order seeds online at Rare Seeds.
- Dedicate an area of your yard to be the garden. If you don’t have a plot of land to dedicate to a whole garden, that is okay too. Containers work well and can grow plants such as tomatoes and peppers.
- Make it easy on yourself. If you have never gardened before, it is as simple as putting a seed into the dirt, giving it sunlight and water and watching it grow.
Come by and check out our very own school garden grown by the kids in the Lily Garden Child Care Center at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley in Villa Park.