Doing it for the Kids - Gardening Australia Magazine Inspiration09:00:00
The Gardening Australia magazine has been an invaluable resource for me over the last three years. It is packed full of information and inspiration for all types of plants, the benefits of gardening, gardening techniques and of course the wonder at all beautiful gardens that are displayed all over its pages. I have had a subscription to the magazine now for just over 3 years and in that time have collected quite a useful array of articles, pictures and ‘what to do’ in the garden lists.
February's issue had a brilliant article on the benefits of gardening and in particular how good it is for our kids to get outside and explore in the garden. I must point out that I consider a garden to be as small and simple as a few terracotta pots out at the back doorstep to a complex menagerie of trees and a landscaped wonderland.
My own passion I think has stemmed from my own parents and how lovely they have made the backyard at home. They were/are always out there pruning, propogating and watering away. Dad always has some wizz bang little invention going on to make things easier out there and I always remember going out to see what could be picked in the veggie patch and helping to feed the birds in the cage. It was always the little things, but they all must have stuck because now I too really enjoy it and love learning more and more and more.
There were some interesting stats in the article, some not so good and what I wanted to share with you today is what I believe are easy, beneficial and importantly FUN activities that you can do with your kids out in the garden. These activities will engage and benefit their health for a lifetime to come and might even spark a continued passion for and enjoyment out of gardening and for the general great outdoors.
this picture is from the Gardening Australia Magazine Feb 14 Edition
Here are some not so good facts about our kids as a population whole that were written in the article:
-The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011-12 Australian Health Survey found that 25% of Aussie children are overweight or obese.
-While kids are taught that they have 5 senses, they spend an average of 35 hours a week using just two of them -sight and sound- (as they watch TV or play on a computer.)
-In a survey completed by Planet Arc in 2011, 72% of those surveyed said they played outside everyday when they were kids compared to 35% of children now.
and only 1 in 10 kids today play outside once a week or less.
This is not to say that parents are not aware nor are they worried about these statistics. They are and its probably very likely, as the article suggests that they care a great deal about their own children and whether they are happy and healthy. The article mentions that it is a known fact that parents and grandparents spend so much time worrying perhaps that sometimes, just to relieve the stress, its likely that they head out to the garden and water, (I do this aaaaaallllll the time.) they harvest the veggies or just relax under a shady tree for a couple of minutes. The writer asks the question: Wouldn’t this work for kids too?
The answer is a definite YES! Our kids can certainly do these activities and we as parents/ carers and garden lovers alike can easily turn some of these stats around very easily. It doesn’t even take much, just a little nudge in the right direction. You probably do loads of stuff out in your backyard/ garden already with your kids and that is great as the benefits of getting outside as stated in the article are plenty.
-kids who spend time outdoors have lower incidences of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression and feel more positive about themselves.
-Children with access to a garden (school, a park, backyard) develop better gross motor skills by balancing on logs, digging holes, raking, etc.
-Children who play regularly in natural settings have better immunity and are sick less often as their immune systems are stimulated, plus they are more likely to be physically active and at a healthy weight range.
-The sunshine that kids enjoy when spending time outdoors during the day boosts their melatonin production at night, helping them transition to a good night’s sleep. Better sleep contributes to higher levels of concentration in the day.
From my own personal experiences, I know I always feel much more relaxed after going out and inspecting the garden (my little oases) and planting out a new row of seedlings. I love getting my hands dirty and don't mind the tiny physical aches of a good afternoon session digging, turning the compost and weeding. I love the satisfying feeling of accomplishment when a garden bed is flowering and growing beautifully. I love how patient you can become waiting for your prized blooms to show their faces for another season and I just love ending a hot summer day watering all the plants. I also love to photograph all my favourite things in the garden.
There were more benefits listed but i think you get the drift.
Now my kids are only very young and have very short attention spans as you can imagine. We are certainly not at the stage of measuring and building net fortresses over the tomatoes to develop their thinking and problem solving skills nor are they ready for planting out a glass terrarium to enjoy and play with just yet, but here are some of the things that I often do with them to get outside and get their hands dirty so to speak.
1. I turn the hose on for them and get them to water all the pots and the garden beds (and the concrete.)
2. They help me pick all the ripened veggies and fruit from the garden and we taste them and eat them.
3. I often show them all the different herbs we have growing and get them to pick them, smell them and taste them. (Though much to my dismay this herb garden is next to my vertical garden pallate full of succulents which have also been picked to oblivion. So sad!!)
4. Hugh helps de-head all the finished flower blooms with the seceters. He loves cutting stuff!
5. The kids love to dig up and shovel up the dirt and make lots of mess.
6. We find ladybugs, ants, butterflies, bees and snails and talk about each ones features and what they might eat and what they might do in the garden.
7. We pick flowers and talk about the colours and how nice they smell.
8. I show them different plants, the shapes and textures of leaves. Eg. Rabbits ears and the Wooley bush are favourites as they are so nice and soft in their hands.
9. We fill up the chooks water and top up their feeders and collect their eggs (when they decide to finally lay them...cmon girls!!)
10. When we go for lots of walks and I always point out things to them. From fallen pine-cone, the ducks on the lake, a paper wasp nest to the beautiful roses in the gardens. All just to get them to notice things like I do.
Most of this I would consider to be incidental stuff as I just seem to notice stuff like this all the time and its just what I do. We don’t do it every single day, sometimes not even for weeks at a time but enough to say that I think the kids are learning and its making an impact. When you hear Hugh standing at the trough at the backdoor with his sister saying ‘Mint Edie’, and that they know the exact place where they will encounter the ladybugs, then you know something good is happening in their little minds and bodies and that truelly is something special.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there. Have a go and have some fun with it. With a bit of luck, your kids will be smelling the roses too in no time on their way to a lifetime of health benefits.
Do you enjoy getting outside in the garden?
Do you like to grow stuff? Veggies, flowers?
What’s your favourite thing to do with the kids?
-If you are interested in finding and reading the article it is in the February 2014 Edition of the Gardening Australia Magazine. Im also pretty sure with technology these days I will be able to get a copy of it to you no problem at all via the internet or email as well if you were keen for a look. (If I can find where I put it of course....)
-Out in blogland there are also myriads of posts on this very topic. Here is a good one from Be a Fun Mum with 105 ways to enjoy nature with kids...
I am also linking this post up up with The Multi Tasking Mummy and the Weekend Rewind at Life Love and Hiccups.
Thanks for visiting today