Connecting your children with nature can be as simple as getting into the garden. Here’s why it’s such a good pick.
The cooler months through autumn and winter are the best time to plant natives in your garden. By this time of year there’s usually been some good opening rains, which means soils are moist and plants have enough time to establish deep roots before the warmer months roll around.
So with the school holidays at hand, consider gathering up the kids, getting outdoors, and getting your hands dirty.
You’re probably aware of the benefits of nature play including how unstructured outdoor play can improve the health and wellbeing of children. But did you know gardening can have the same results?
Here are five of the biggest reasons to get your kids out into the garden:
- It encourages them to love nature. If you want your children to care about the environment, get the ball rolling early by getting them out in the greenery when they’re young. This way they learn to appreciate their surrounds and are more inclined to look after it.
- They get a head start on learning about science. Spending time outside will mean your children are exposed to things like wildlife, insects, the weather and other wonders of nature. They’ll learn from their surroundings, whether it’s which birds are attracted to your garden or which season they are likely to spot fungi .
- It gets them active. Gardening isn’t always a walk in the park. There’s lots of walking around, bending up and down, digging, and all sorts of other movements involved. It’s also a chance to learn about teamwork by working on a joint project, and a good way to realise how many hands can make light work.
- It’s good for their health and wellbeing. Connecting with nature is good for kids’ mental health. In fact, research has shown positive impacts on ADHD, depression and stress. And while it’s important to be sun smart, soaking up some sun is a good way to stock up on Vitamin D, which is crucial for healthy bones.
- It unlocks their creativity. Whether planting seedlings can be turned into a game, or picking vegetables sparks ideas about what to cook for dinner, being in the garden can give your children an opportunity to think outside the square. It can be a feast for the senses too. Many plants have interesting smells or textures, or are perfect for craft.
Need advice about what to plant?
Use the Botanic Gardens of South Australia’s plant selector for inspiration on what plants are suitable for your area. You can even sort them by the colour of flowers or foliage. Or maybe you could select something that would entice native wildlife, brighten up the garden, or even some veggies? There’s plenty of resources to guide you on your way.
Don’t have your own garden?
You don’t need to have your own patch of turf to experience the benefits of gardening. Volunteer at a local planting event instead, or help out a friend or a neighbour.
Volunteering can give you a health boost, improve your self-confidence and help you connect with new people. It’s really win-win.
And let’s face it, how awesome will it feel looking back in years to come and seeing how much the tree you’ve planted has grown?