What Does Gardening Teach You?


As a dad I try to make sure the majority of what I do teaches my children concepts that they can take with them through life. As a relatively new gardener I’m trying to learn as much as I can, but I hadn’t yet considered what gardening is teaching me and what it teaches my children. Now that they’ve gone back to school I’ve had some time to sit down and really consider this.

So, what does gardening teach you? Gardening teaches a plethora of life lessons. Gardening teaches everything from economics to science to spirituality to emotion and love to hard work. Gardening is truly a master teacher for adults and children.

I hate being so general with an answer. I’m the kind of guy that likes a nice quick, to the point response. I don’t want to listen to my neighbor drag on and on about something that could have been said in one sentence. However, after much consideration, this just isn’t a simple and straightforward answer. There are too many variances when it comes to the possibilities of what gardening teaches you.

Think about these things and see if you can figure out how gardening can teach them to you?

  • Perspective – see things from a different point of view.
  • Optimism – hope for outcomes that are uncertain.
  • Dilemmas – being stuck between a rock and a hard place, choosing between two outcomes.
  • Loneliness – isolation.
  • Effort – Good things require hard work
  • Disappointment – Failure happens, and it’s a necessary step on the path to success.
  • Joyful consequences – Unexpected things can be wonderful
  • Planning – identify goals, formulate strategies, implement steps to success, monitor progress.
  • Moderation – it is possible to have too much of a good thing.
  • Nurturing – caring for something or someone other than yourself
  • Math – Adding, subtracting, estimating, etc.
  • Life cycle – Life and death and everything between.
  • Teamwork – working together benefits everyone
  • Giving and Charity – it’s not always about YOU!
  • Patience – good things take time.
  • Balance – even distribution of time, energy, effort, and outcomes.
  • Meditation – connecting with nature and creating a spiritual bond.
  • Thankfulness – appreciation for outcomes beyond what you could control.
  • Life lessons – Plant seeds, Clear weeds, get dirty, water your plants.
  • God is the gardener – you grow, you learn, you reach out, and sometimes you get cut down – but only because it’s what’s best for you to become what the gardener wants you to become.

That’s just a start. The list could go on and on and on. That’s why I couldn’t just answer it in one sentence. As it turns out, gardening is a master of teaching. No wonder the Lord himself used gardening and it’s concepts so frequently to teach His gospel. There truly are so many lessons to be learned in gardening.

Gardening is an adventure in learning and apparently the more we garden the more we grow. Now that I’ve learned this great and valuable lesson I need to apply it to my life. For me, that means I need to start sharing gardening more with my kids.

How Does Gardening Help A Child’s Development?

I decided that in order to help my children grow and develop I wanted to focus on 9 key concepts that they can develop from gardening.

  • Five Senses

In the garden my kids have the opportunity to use and engage all five of their senses. The colors range from vibrant to dull. The sounds range from chaotic to peaceful depending on the activity we’re doing in the garden, from sounds of digging to sounds of picking plants to the sounds of the nature around us. The smells range from pleasant to putrid and everything interesting in between. I love the smell of fresh soil, but I hate the smell of fresh manure. The variety of tastes after harvesting the fruits and vegetables we grow. The feeling of the dirt and the plants and the surroundings. I love that all five senses are engaged in gardening so this is a huge fucus for me.

  • Healthy Eating

I don’t know that there is any better way to promote healthy eating than helping the kids learn about where food comes from and where our food gets its nutrients. Healthy eating habits are vital for the development of our mind and our body. Kids have a hard enough time eating their fruits and veggies, but there is something so satisfying about the reward of eating that tomato after working so hard to create it. Gardening is a great way to put my kids on the right path to eating healthy.

  • Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills lead to high achieving academic skills. In the garden my kids have the opportunity to pour water on seeds they’ve planted in holes that they’ve dug. Each activity in gardening takes strength and control and will help make them better students as they grow. I’m not just growing plants, I’m growing people.

  • Scientific Concepts

Environmental science. Biology. Chemistry. Botany. Any kid curious about science should start a garden, it’s the perfect introduction to many of the sciences they’ll have an opportunity to use throughout their lives. Gardening also introduces them to scientific concepts and allows them to be curious and make scientific discoveries on their own.

  • Family Bonding

Frankly, I don’t get to spend a ton of time with my kids…and they don’t really get to spend a lot of time with each other. We are all so busy all the time that we simply don’t get many family bonding experiences. Gardening gives us the chance to go outside together, create something together, nurture something together, and harvest it together. We all share in the hard work and the joy and we get to talk with each other and build our relationships. I’m not just growing plants, and I’m not just growing people, I’m growing a family.

  • Responsibility

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far as a dad it’s that my kids need responsibility. They thrive on putting stickers on charts or putting check marks in boxes. But they HATE doing chores. They don’t see the benefits of chores, and they don’t recognize that they’re reaping the rewards of doing chores. Gardening is something they enjoy, and they get a good amount of pleasure out of so giving them responsibilities and helping them learn how to take care of their gardens will certainly help them grow.

  • Basic Math

From basic counting to measuring to weighing and so much more. Gardening allows kids to develop basic and advanced math skills as they work to grow their plants. Math lessons can be placed in nearly every experience of gardening.

  • Patience

This is a hard one for “Big Papa.” I’ve never had a lot of patience, and I’m sure I’ve passed that down to my kids. They didn’t get their lack of patience from their mother, afterall, she puts up with me daily. Gardening is an excellent teacher of patience. There is very little, if any, immediate gratification when gardening and the kids notice that, but if I can teach them right now to love gardening then perhaps they will have better patience as they grow and learn that not everything needs to be immediate. Good things come to those who wait.

  • Planning and Organization

There are literally job titles that include words like “Planner” and “Organizer.” Planning and organizing are incredible skills that can take years to master. Gardening is a craft that requires both in order to be as successful as possible. Sure, a garden could be thrown together with little though, but it won’t be very successful and there won’t be a lot of joy that comes from it. Through gardening my kids can learn how to turn a plan into an action which will help them no matter what their future job title.

RELATED QUESTIONS

What skills do you need to be a gardener?

The most important skill in gardening is hard work and determination. If you can put in the work, from the planning, to the planting, to the maintaining, to the harvesting, then you can have a great garden. Gardening is not easy. It doesn’t just happen. There are stumbling blocks along the way, but nothing that is too difficult to overcome. Hard work and determination are the most important skills to have to be a gardener.

Why is gardening important for students to learn?

As mentioned above, gardening helps improve multiple facets of life. For students of all ages gardening is important to learn because it simply put things into perspective and helps students understand basic principles ranging in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

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Gardening Teaches Life’s Lessons!

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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