We hear all about how screens are allegedly taking over our children’s lives. If you’d like to get your children away from their iPad, laptop, TV or phone and into a rewarding pastime, maybe gardening is just the ticket?

Fresh air? Tick. Sunshine and vitamin D? Tick. Wholesome fun that rewards you with vegetables, flowers and learning? Triple tick! Gardening is a great pastime to get your children outdoors and learning something new. Beyond just physically throwing seedlings or small plants into dirt, there are lessons of responsibility, as well as elements of understanding and creativity that go into creating and caring for a garden.

Where to begin? Simply head outdoors! You don’t need a big area to create a garden for your children. The biggest decision will be what style of garden you want to create.

Vegetable gardens

A backyard veggie patch will reward your family with fresh produce and is a brilliant learning tool to help your children understand where their food comes from. The fun part is choosing what to grow. You should be guided in your selection by your children’s food preferences. If they love a salad, lettuce is an easy beginner option, as well as tomatoes if you have somewhere for the tomato vine to climb. Herbs are easy-care options too (think basil and parsley). Strawberries are a brilliant addition to any veggie patch – how fun for the children to watch strawberry flowers turn into fruit, and then watch that fruit change from green to red in readiness for eating! A vegetable garden takes some commitment though – it will need constant watering, pest control and care – so take that into consideration before you jump in.

Fairy gardens

What young child doesn’t love the magic of a fairy garden? There are so many cute ornaments available in toy stores, garden centres and nurseries these days to help bring your fairy garden to life. Fairy gardens work equally as well outdoors, or in an indoor pot plant. Take your child to a nursery and let them wander the grounds, seeking out the plants that catch their eyes. Be guided by them. If they fall in love with a bright green fern, go with that and make an indoor fairy garden in the pot around your fern. If they are attracted to the scent of a lavender plant, go with that and create your fairy garden outside in a full sun position.

General gardening

Giving your bigger children jobs around the yard to help keep the family gardens flourishing can also be rewarding. They can assist with mulching, weeding and watering. Encourage them to collect cut flowers and interesting foliage that you can put into vases in your home. Time spent together, with your children in the great outdoors, whatever the garden type, will be time well spent.

Research shows that natural resources and outdoor environments are good for children and their development. Getting outside and working on a garden is great for the following reasons:

* Growing plants and vegetables is a great way to introduce science (life cycles, growing, insects etc) and gives our educators opportunities to talk to the children about healthy eating and where food comes from;

* Children need to learn about the environment and it’s a great way to introduce these concepts;

* Natural environments can be a great change to a child’s day and actually helps to calm children.

Gardening is a wholesome pastime teaching life-long skills that your children will, no doubt, share with their own children one day. Go green today!