The Advantages of Dirt Play: Why Kids Should Garden

Fresh air, green grass, and blue sky: who wouldn’t want to spend a day with those surroundings? Children are no exception. Children are naturally curious about the natural world around them and the things they see. What better way to encourage that curiosity than by teaching them to garden?

The advantages of playing in the dirt are numerous. First and foremost, it helps children gain an understanding of the world they belong to. Learning about earthworms, flower seeds, and seasons all help kids understand the way life works. Gardening offers knowledge about the environment and how one thing affects another – important in terms of human behavior, too. It encourages patience and knowledge of time: both vital life skills!

Gardening also engages the senses and provides a sense of calm. Being around natural objects is known to ease stress and feelings of anxiety. Children who are prone to being overwhelmed may find a personal garden beneficial. The smell of fresh herbs like lavender and mint growing nearby makes a restful place to spend a sunny afternoon. Gardening is also great for teaching kids where their food comes from: and it’s not the grocery store! Growing one’s own food can encourage a healthy lifestyle and a deeper understanding of human nutrition.  Who wouldn’t want to run outside and pick fresh strawberries for their morning cereal? Here’s one way to try growing strawberries:

Lastly, mathematical and scientific concepts are increased by the practice of gardening. Measuring distance for planting rows and depth of seed planting creates a foundation for math. Life cycles and weather patterns that affect plant growth can give a leg up in science education. Mapping out planting beds helps with understanding spacial relationships. The ability to organize tools, proper storage of equipment, and care of a variety of plant life all aid in the development of math and science skill formation.

So let them dig in the dirt! Encourage dirt play and natural exploration. Find out what they would want to grow – and grow it! It’s okay to start small: one plant in the house is an easy way to begin. Gardening provides so many opportunities to learn!

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