We've all heard the buzz about gardening therapy, right? And we know that gardening with kids can be great fun and will help children develop a love of nature. But it turns out that there are many other benefits to teaching your kids gardening from an early age, some of them less expected than others.
Gardening, it has been found, makes children more confident and helps them develop leadership skills. This is because taking responsibility for growing a plant and seeing the results makes a child feel competent and capable. Dr Wendy Matthews, a consultant for Mindprint Learning, explains that gardening does wonders for a child's confidence 'as they engage in a real life activity that they might have previously seen as only for adults'.
Moreover, gardening can positively affect your child's academic performance, making them more likely to engage with STEM subjects. As well as being relaxing and fun, gardening is actually a highly logical activity that requires understanding cause and effect, for instance what happens when you give a plant too much water. It's a real-life activity that encourages thinking ahead and solving problems, and children who do gardening have been found to be better at maths.
Finally, gardening from an early age will make your child physically stronger (it's an excellent workout for the upper body) and will instil healthy eating habits. Children who understand how food grows are more likely to snack on fruit and vegetables, according to a recent study.
And it's no coincidence that this all chimes with our report earlier this week on how getting children involved in household chores will make children happier and healthier.
So, ready to get your little ones to do some gardening? Our top tip is to start with easy-growing flowers and veggies that have a big visual payoff, such as sunflowers and pumpkins. And get them a lovely, colourful watering can they'll love using.
Also, check out our tips on making your garden child-friendly to make sure they're safe while they garden.