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7 Great Life Lessons Kids Learn While Gardening

Gardens are great for so many reasons. Not only can they teach us about our food and nature, but they offer so many life lessons. Check out these 7 great life lessons we can share with our kids while fostering our green thumbs!

When it comes to our garden, sometimes the boys help and other times I’m on my own. My older son much prefers sports or reading over getting his hands dirty. My younger son is more inclined to help when he’s around, unless his older brother is willing to play. His big brother is way more interesting than his mom (shocking… I know). 

Whether they help a little or a lot, our boys (and me too… let’s be real) have learned some big lessons from our garden. We’ve learned lessons about food, patience, and commitment, among other things. 

We recently planting seedlings for our garden, and I just started cleaning up the garden to get it ready for this season. I can’t wait to dig in!

While gardening teaches us about soil, plant life cycles, and when to water the little guys, gardening offers a host of life lessons beyond the technical skills. I’m sure this list isn’t all-inclusive, but these are seven life lessons we’re learning from our home vegetable garden.

7 Life Lessons Kids Learn While Gardening

Where Our Foods Comes From

We increasingly know less and less about the origins of our food. There are plenty of critics discussing the harmful effects of picking up everything and anything from a grocery store, which cause us to forget what foods are in season and the amount of work and resources needed to bring that food to the table. With the addition of grocery delivery to our convenience arsenal, our children aren’t even seeing the variety of food on grocery store shelves; they only know that food simply shows up in the refrigerator.

When our children plant seeds and watch them grow from under the soil, up into vines and plants, flourish as flowers, and then finally mature into fruits and vegetables we can eat, they gain a much deeper understanding of where our food comes from and how complex the process is to grow some of the most seemingly simple foods we eat. 

Patience To Succeed

Food takes a long time to grow! We must put forth much effort to care for a plant long before it bears fruit. We live in a world overflowing with immediate gratification. This makes it harder to develop patience and also more difficult to trust any process that requires time and patience to successfully complete.

Growing a garden is a simple analogy for kids to learn how it feels to work toward a goal with no clear or immediate finish line in sight. And yet, we savor a great sense of accomplishment when a goal is finally achieved after much work with little tangible result to show for it for such a long time.

Growing Food Takes Work (A Lot of It)

What’s the big deal when we toss 40% of our food in the trash if it just shows up in our kitchen each week? When our children are involved in the process of growing the food we eat, even if only on a small scale, they can appreciate the amount of work and time it takes to grow just one cucumber or a handful of raspberries. We are more inclined not to waste our food when we understand the extensive effort that goes into growing it.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Gardening takes a lot of practice and a good bit of studying to figure out how to do it right. We will all make mistakes while gardening. We can recover from some of the mistakes and others result in a lost season or a crop that never grows.

Last year, we revived our raspberry bushes after nearly drowning them. We also planted pumpkins that, despite our best efforts, never really saw the light of day. I don’t think the soil in which we planted the pumpkins had enough nutrients, so we plan to give it another shot this year and see how it turns out.

Nonetheless, some things work and some things don’t, and we have to learn to live with that.

We Can’t Control Everything

Gardens are like kids in some ways. You can care for them with great diligence and still not get what you planned. We can all learn from a little experience in the garden that no matter how much we plan and give our very best effort to accomplish a goal (i.e. a beautiful and bountiful garden), sometimes it doesn’t work out. And that’s ok.

Trash Can Become Treasure

We make mistakes and we can’t control everything. Sometimes we end up with a pile of dead plants that can’t be brought back to life. Even if the garden flourished, we still have vines, leaves, and odds and ends that don’t deserve to end up in the trash. With a compost pile, kids learn that leftovers and trash become nutrient-rich humus when we dispose of them properly. Don’t assume that trash can’t transform into a new kind of treasure. 

Beauty Isn’t Everything

Last but not least, life isn’t all about looks. Grocery store shelves might suggest otherwise but ugly produce provides just as much nourishment as the most beautiful berry on the bush. Eating imperfect produce from our gardens reminds children that the value of anything (or anyone) is more than a function of their appearance.

Kids and adults alike, we have a bounty of lessons to learn from a home garden. Anything from a few small pots to a large pot of land can offer great opportunities to learn so many life lessons. What lessons have you learned from your garden? 

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