Are you a busy homeschooling mom struggling to find activities that engage your older kids while teaching them essential life skills?
Look no further; gardening is a wonderful way to bring learning to your everyday life. Read more to find out how growing a garden to develop life skills for older kids will be a beneficial part of your homeschooling day.
Discovering the wonders of gardening with my kids was an eye-opening experience. It was amazing to see them develop essential life skills through their gardening experiences.
One of my kids, now 21, really took to it, and after working alongside me for a while, he secured a job at a nearby organic farm when he was just 17. It was incredible to watch him apply the skills he learned in the garden, and see him blossom into a respected young adult.
Garden skills that contributed to his growth:
- He worked 8 hours a day planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting through the hot summer months without complaining.
- He found so much joy in accomplishing tasks with his hands and then knowing that what he did made a difference.
- He used his sense of responsibility to get to this job on time and not leave until the job was done.
- He understood the life cycles of plants and was able to come back and teach me more in the garden. His knowledge became invaluable.
Now, he dreams of someday getting married and moving to a small piece of property and farming with his kids because gardening taught him so much that he wants to pass that on to the next generation.
Gardening offers a great opportunity to teach kids about where food comes from and how much tastier it is when it is homegrown. It also helps kids develop important life skills like planning and managing their time effectively.
When I teach families how to start a garden, I always start with what they like to eat. Looking at those foods, even if processed, I ask them to see what parts of their favorite foods originally came from a garden. Pizza for instance has tomatoes for the sauce and any veggies as a topping. Spaghetti sauce is all about the tomatoes and basil, parsley, oregano, and possibly garlic and onion. It all started from a garden and learning to grow things that can become something they like to eat is a beautiful process.
Start the idea of gardening by creating a list of foods that your family would like to grow together. I worked with a family who had never been to a farmers’ market or tasted food fresh from a garden. Once they did a taste test of things they bought at a farmers’ market, their whole perspective changed.
Tasting fresh food gave them excitement to start making a plan to grow their own food.
Join fellow True North Homeschool Academy students this year for an exciting, unique look at the world of plants! Content will include plant anatomy, appreciating herbs & medicinal plants, foraging, gardening & more! Students will learn how to keep a science notebook, as well as participate in labs. This class is suited for junior high students (6th-8thth grade) can be used as a high school elective!
By working together to grow a garden small or large, your family can learn to plan, schedule, and collaborate effectively while enjoying the food from your garden. Plus, the sense of shared accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from watching your little plants grow into thriving vegetables or beautiful flowers is priceless.
After you know what you want to grow, grab a calendar and start looking for first and last frost dates for your area. These don’t have to be exact, just an estimate.
Next write down when your average highs and low temperatures are for each month.
- Cool seasoned crops grow between 35-75 degrees in your area.
- Warm seasoned crops grow between 65-85 degrees in your area
- Hot seasoned crops grow 85 degrees and hotter in your area
Use these guidelines to start thinking about planning out your garden. Having a sense of your garden seasons, as a family, start charting out times to prepare a spot for a garden, decide when to add plants to the garden for success with temperatures, and make a plan to water and take care of what you have planted.
Taking responsibility is a crucial aspect of personal growth and development, and there’s no better place to start than with maintaining a garden.
From watering to weed pulling, understanding the importance of taking care of a garden means understanding the impact it has on the surrounding environment and community. In addition to mastering the practical skills involved in gardening, a sense of responsibility also requires remembering to tend to the tasks at hand and making a commitment to follow through.
The results of a well-maintained garden can serve as a visual representation of the progress and success that can be achieved when one takes ownership of their work and strives to constantly improve.
As a family, take the time to evaluate what is going on in the garden at each stage of the season. Then brainstorm how to improve or celebrate the successes no matter how big or small.
Patience truly is a virtue, especially for gardeners. It’s easy to get excited about creating a beautiful garden, but it’s important to remember that plants need time to grow and produce veggies and fruits.
Teaching patience can be difficult to do but the natural process of waiting for a backyard garden to grow gives you space to learn.
In fact, gardening can teach us all about the importance of taking time to listen to nature and to ourselves. Embracing the art of patience and enjoying the journey as much as the destination is a beautiful gift that a garden gives.
We all know how important it is to have good social skills, especially when it comes to interacting with our family members.
Whether it’s figuring out how to keep a garden growing or spending time learning from each other, building strong relationships and problem solving together can make all the difference.
By actively listening to one another, sharing our thoughts and ideas, and working towards common goals, we can deepen our connections with those closest to us and develop the skills needed to effectively navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.
Self-confidence is a crucial aspect of a child’s development especially as they get older.
One way to boost self-confidence is by letting kids grow food in their own garden. Witnessing the miracle of a seed turning into a sprout, and then into a thriving plant, is a thrilling experience.
As older kids care for and watch their plants grow over time, they begin to realize that they are capable of great things. This newfound sense of confidence not only impacts their ability to garden but spills over into other areas of their life. When kids grow in their own abilities, they also grow in self-confidence, and that is a powerful combination.
Read Part I of this 3-part Series: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce Gardening to your Early Learner
Read Part II of this 3-part Series: How to Boost and Enhance Learning for your K-3 Child through Gardening
Listen to the Podcast as Alicia shares how she went from Black to Green Thumb!
Let’s get you started in growing a garden with your older kids.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Ask each person in the family to write down their 3 top veggies and 2 top fruits that they love to eat.
- Find a farmers’ market near you and have each family member pick out one fruit or veggie from the market. Then go to a grocery store and pick the same fruit or veggie. Take the food home and have a taste test of each set of fruits and veggies. Compare which one’s taste best. Growing your own food from home will be like having your own fresh food from a farmers’ market.
- Make a list of the foods that your family wants to grow.
- Pick 2-3 foods and find out when to plant those foods in your area.
- Wait for the right timing and grab a container with nutrient-rich soil. Go to a local nursery and buy either seeds or transplants.
- Use the above temperatures to know when to plant for each season.
Gardening with older kids is a great opportunity to introduce and develop the knowledge, responsibilities, and patience needed to properly care for living things.
A backyard garden provides children with communication, social skills, and teamwork – all essential components to reaching success in their everyday lives. From gaining a better appreciation of nature and its value to boosting self-confidence, the benefits are endless.
Take this opportunity and launch your family into a journey that will last a lifetime. Start bringing a sense of increased emotional wellbeing and improved relationships through gardening together. Don’t wait any longer; take the first step today and gather your family team together to start a garden!
Alicia has been homeschooling for the past 16 years and is a mom of 3 kids. She has a master’s degree in education and has become a certified Gardenary Garden designer and coach. With her kids as her inspiration, gardening has become an essential part of their homeschooling day. She wants to help other homeschooling families create spaces to grow, learn, and breathe. Follow her to learn more about gardening. You can find her gardening and teaching over at Create My Garden.