Busy lifestyles combined with the added temptation of screen time and social media can make it hard for parents to get their children outside and get active.
For the past 40 years Life Education has visited schools across Australia to empower children and young people to make safer and healthier choices through education.
Now Yates and Life Education have teamed up to help parents and schools to encourage young people to become active and healthy. Together they have launched a Growing Good Gardens Grant, offering $15,000 worth of grants to create garden spaces for kids.
Angie Thomas, Yates Horticulture Consultant and busy mum of two boys, shares her top tips for using the garden (however big or small) to create some habits of a lifetime:
1- Plant a veggie garden
When kids are included in the sowing, growing and harvesting of their own veggies, they’re more likely to eat them come dinner time! Gardening is a fantastic activity that kids of every age can enjoy. Children can learn new skills, have fun, play, and develop self-confidence by digging in the soil, getting dirty, tending to plants and watching them grow. Gardening can help teach our kids:
– Responsibility by highlighting the importance of nurture
– Understanding cause and effect (water and plants grow, ignore and plants die)
– Self-confidence and a sense of achievement that stems from growing their own garden
– To love nature and the feeling of being outdoors
– Cooperation and teamwork.
2- Use the garden to create an insect safari
Head outdoors with the kids armed with a pen, paper and magnifying glass to learn about all walks of life and hone their observation skills by uncovering the secret lives of bugs. Once you’ve found a variety of bugs and insects, ask your child to draw what they have seen. Ask them to describe the characteristics of the different insects – how many legs, do they have wings, where do they live, what do they do etc.
3- Make mud pies
We are always telling our kids not to get dirty but getting your hands dirty in the garden has been scientifically proven to increase serotonin levels through contact with soil and specific soil bacteria. Why not surprise your kids (and prepare yourself) with an afternoon of messy play. Put them in their swimmers, give them the hose and tell them that you want them to get dirty and see what they can make out of mud!
4- Plant herb pots
Similar to planting a veggie garden, setting our kids’ minds to a gardening task, such as planting herbs in pots, helps develop their ability to focus and live in the moment. Kids learn best when engaging all their senses. With gardening, kids can touch and feel the dirt, seeds, flowers and herbs, see the vibrant colours and varied sizes of the plants, and smell the amazing scents of the herbs. Allowing all the senses to be involved helps kids understand and grasp the concept of gardening along with all the scientific concepts that go along with it.
5- Apply for a garden grant. Encourage your school, daycare or community group to apply for one of the Growing Good Garden Grants to help get kids outside and learning healthy habits. To apply for the Yates and Life Education’s Growing Good Gardens Grants 2018, teachers and parents can complete the application form on Life Education Australia’s website – lifeeducation.org.au/gardengra