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What Young Children Learn From Gardening

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When your young child is gardening with you, their brains are hard at work in a world of fast-paced development. They’re dipping their toes in science and numeracy skills. They’re developing motor skills at an unprecedented pace. And best of all? They’re learning patience and responsibility.

We love to garden on our Vivvi campuses, teaching young children to plant and care for seeds, and then enjoy the bounty of their harvest.

“There’s no instant gratification in gardening with little ones; this activity is all about patience and observation, something that may be a new concept for some toddlers,” according to Ajia Hunter-Muller, Vivvi’s Curriculum and Learning Manager. “They don’t plant a seed and see a sprout right away. It takes days and proper care. But the reward is so, so sweet!”

Gardening sets the stage for your child to explore nature, learn about plants, and develop skills they’ll carry with them for life.

Gardening is a squishy, messy, fun—and educational!—activity that binds generations. From the grandparents to the toddlers, there’s a way to involve your whole family in the joy of gardening and use it as a wonderful learning tool as well.

And gardening can be done anywhere—even in a city apartment! You don’t need a lot of space; it’s amazing what you can do with just a small pot of dirt, seeds, water and sunlight!

What Young Children Learn From Gardening

  • Science: Children learn about the plant life cycle, how plants grow, and what they need to survive. They’re building the foundation of their future science learning.
  • Math: A great way to introduce early numeracy, when gardening children learn about measuring, counting, and sorting when they plant seeds and care for their plants.
  • Sensory: Children experience different textures, smells, and tastes when they touch, smell, and taste the plants.
  • Fine motor skills: Planting seeds, watering plants, and harvesting vegetables help your child develop their fine motor skills.
  • Gross motor skills: Children develop their gross motor skills when they dig in the dirt, carry pots, and water plants.
  • Patience: Waiting for a plant to grow is just about as exciting as watching paint dry. But even young children learn patience as they wait for their plants to grow. Daily waterings become exciting when your child can see the growth!
  • Responsibility: Children learn responsibility when they care for their plants and help to keep them healthy. So often we assume our children don’t have the capacity for responsibility. But they’re just little, and they just need reminders. 

How Children Develop Motor and Sensory Skills Through Gardening

When young children are engaged in gardening, they’re getting a full body workout—from the fine motor skills of their tiny fingers picking up seeds, to the sensory processing of smell, taste and touch.

Fine motor skills are the small, precise movements we make with our hands and fingers. Things like turning pages, cutting with scissors, or building a block tower all develop these fine motor skills. Make sure to only provide your child with developmentally appropriate and safe tools.

While gardening, children develop their fine motor skills when they:

  • Plant seeds
  • Water plants
  • Harvest vegetables
  • Pull weeds
  • Repot plants

Sensory skills are how we interpret touch, smell, taste, vision, and sound. Children develop their sensory skills when they:

  • Touch different textures (soil, leaves, flowers)
  • Smell different smells (flowers, herbs, dirt)
  • Taste different tastes (fruits, vegetables)
  • See different colors (flowers, leaves)
  • Hear different sounds (birds singing, wind blowing)

Family Bonding

Gardening is a great way for young children to learn and grow, and to deepen relationships with family members.

Intergenerational activities—like gardening, cooking, or going on nature walks—are associated with positive outcomes for both the oldest and the youngest ones in the group. Improved communication, enhanced self-esteem, and better decision-making skills are just a few of the developmental benefits.

Plus: the bonding! Gardening sets the scene for long stretches of uninterrupted special time with your little one. Set your phone to the side and focus on the task at hand: planting seeds and being present with your child.

Toddler Gardening Activities

  • Planting seeds
  • Watering plants
  • Harvesting vegetables
  • Pulling weeds

Preschoolers Gardening Activities

  • All of the above
  • Repotting plants
  • Fertilizing
  • Designing a garden
  • Composting

Gardening is just one of the many learning activities that children engage in at Vivvi. Vivvi’s inquiry-based curriculum is facilitated by warm, experienced teachers in bright, open spaces that let children make big connections to the growing world around them. Find your nearest Vivvi here.

Vivvi provides child care and early learning for children ages 0-5, with unrivaled flexibility that works for today’s families. Our inquiry-based curriculum is facilitated by warm, experienced teachers in bright, open spaces that let children make big connections to the growing world around them. Find your nearest Vivvi here.

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