Think back and recall a time, as a child, that you spent exploring plants and trees. Perhaps during a school field trip? Or maybe a neighbor shared a freshly picked snap pea from his garden with you? Experiences like this cultivate a curiosity in children that is, sadly, often lost on today’s generation. Educating children about their natural surroundings and encouraging them–especially at a young age–to become explorers and cultivators of nature has wonderful benefits.

Encourage Natural Sensory Experiences

Infants and toddlers learn through touching, smelling, and tasting the world around them. Gardening provides a tactile experience that allows infants to interact with nature. Children learning about colors and shapes can learn through the colors of nature. Another benefit of spending time gardening is it’s a physical activity, rather than a sedentary one. Some teaching tools today (iPads, computers) rely on the convenience of technology and forgo the beautiful option of learning from the natural world while engaging in physical activity.

DIY: Make a commitment to explore the natural world with your child. If you have a garden, let them spend time digging holes and watching you plant (touch). Or visit a local garden and do the same. Spend time cooking with your child and let them sample and smell fresh vegetables from your garden or local farmer’s market (taste and smell). Let the rustling of leaves as you walk through a garden and the crunch of freshly picked apples fills your little one’s ears (sound).

Teach Children Important Life Skills

Gardening can also teach children necessary life lessons and skills. Giving children who are developing a sense of empathy and responsibility a chance to care for something and help it grow is beneficial in a number of ways. It teaches them patience, perseverance, pride and even loss. Teaching children about various types of plants and how they grow also serves as a valuable way to help improve their memory.

DIY: If you don’t have a garden find a houseplant to grow with your child. Teach them the name of the plant, let them nurture it and watch it grow. If you do have a garden give your child a small plot of land and help them plant something. Let them feel the dirt, dig through it and enjoy the experience of gardening.

Carmel Mountain Preschool provides a safe and caring environment with hands-on, developmentally-appropriate programs for children. We also offer excellent care for elementary school-age students with our before and after school programs. CMP is located at 9510 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego CA 92129, situated between 4S Ranch, Rancho Peñasquitos, Carmel Valley, and Santaluz For more information, please visit our website or contact us at 858.484.4877.