How gardening helps kids take a break from screens in exchange for sunshine
LONDON, ONT. -- Are you looking for a safe and family-friendly hobby during lockdown? Why not grow a love for gardening?
The activity can be a fun and safe way for kids to take a break from screens in exchange for some sunshine, and if you don’t have a backyard, there are some great indoor planting ideas.
“It is great for a child to learn gardening when they are young and there is so many different avenues they can go into and enjoy it with their family,” says Lynne Kring, general manager of Parkway Garden Centre in London.
The pandemic has limited many outdoor actives for youth, who are spending more time on screens with remote learning.
Kring says gardening is a great outlet for kids to keep them engaged and keep their spirits up during lockdown.
“We really encourage young families to include their children in gardening efforts like vegetables, it's great to plant vegetables and see where your food is coming from because a lot of kids don’t know that.”
London resident Nubbia, mom of four-year-old Damian, has been encouraging her son to join her during gardening time.
“You’re caring for them, watering them, it brings peace to the house…and my son he sees them everyday and he wants to participate as well. We have a jug at home where he goes around and helps.”
Damian just recently got a new set of gardening tools from his mom to help pull the weeds from the garden.
“It is a visual thing, he is learning and asking questions which is great…I think it's important to have children involved especially as they get older and the importance of eventually growing their own things and taking care of something,” said Nubbia.
Kring says not many children understand where food even comes from, and when they realize that they can make their own produce, it sparks a feeling of accomplishment and pride.
“It is a down to earth activity for families to enjoy, a lot of families are getting into it. It's really fun for the kids to say, ‘Oh I grew that tomato,’ or ‘That pumpkin is mine.'"
While gardening centres are open with restrictions, not every family has access to a garden, especially if they live in a condo or apartment complex.
Kring says there is no need to worry, families can grow gardens inside by a window or out on their balconies.
“Indoor plants, a lot of kids like carnivorous plants and even air plants -- you can do a whole bunch of things with air plants. You can stick them on magnets, they don’t need soil and it's always fun to watch them grow.”
Kring says many kids are drawn to the names of plants, especially if they’re ‘funny.’
"Some of the plants have really funny names, like turtle vine, waffle plant, rabbit fern, pancake plant. It's fun for them to start with a small plant and the success will make them try other things.”
Another good option is herbs. Kids can plant an herb garden with plants like parsley, mint or dill out on their balconies or by a window indoors depending on light.
Kring says parents should find a local garden centre to ask what plants will work for their household, dependent on children’s ages and light flow in their home.