The famous rhyme "Mary Mary, quite contrary. How does your garden grow?" has captivated children for years. So why are children so fascinated with digging in the dirt and growing plants?
Researchers say that growing plants is fantastic for children. Why? Well it teaches them responsibility that is learnt by caring for plants. As they watch seeds grow, they learn about the cause and effect of nature. They learn that they have to water plants to keep them alive and the consequences if they don't. We're always amazed at the self confidence that comes as children achieve their goals through their plants and enjoy the food that they have grown.
Our experience tells us that teaching children to grow plants also instills a love for nature and the outdoor environment. There's a level of reasoning and discovery as children learn about the weather, the environment, insects and the science of plants. Not only do kids learn about nature but they get to be physical outside which helps with their motor skill development in a fun and productive environment. At our sister childcare centre in Cairns, tending to a veggie patch has become a valuable part of our curriculum. Not only do kids learn about growing plants outdoors, we incorporate the lessons in the classrooms too.
The trick to getting children excited about growing plants is to choose fruit and vegetables that are easy to grow. Plants like peas, cherry tomatoes and strawberries tend to work well. We've also had success growing sunflowers in the past.
By keeping it simple and choosing veggies that attract butterflies and ladybugs you maximise excitement in the playground. And, if you are thinking about growing a veggie patch at home, you may even want consider a worm farm and don't forget to include a scarecrow.
We can't wait to start our own veggie patch at Highfields Gardens Childcare Centre when we open in 2017.