The research is in, gardening, and interacting with nature is good for our health and well being, especially for that of our kids. Living near nature dramatically impacts our health and interaction with nature decreases the health gap between rich and poor. Contact with nature helps children to develop cognitive, emotional, and behavioral connections to their nearby social and biophysical environments. Nature experiences are important for encouraging imagination and creativity, cognitive and intellectual development, and social relationships (Read the article). Kids in particular who suffer from nature deficit disorder and attention deficit disorder can have their symptoms alleviated by spending more time outdoors. Another informative article shares that it helps to relieve stress in children as well.
Other studies suggest that just looking at nature improves our health and reduces the time it takes to recover from surgery. So imagine what a difference a whole afternoon outside can do.
Getting our kids involved in the garden can have even more benefits. In her article Go Outside and Play: Four Reasons Why Exposure to Nature is Essential To a Child’s Wellbeing, Suzy DeYoung talks about the amazing health benefits of getting kids outside. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is the US’s number one environmental health concern. They encourage kids to get outside and play but I think that working in the garden can be even more beneficial.
So let’s get our kids outside. Here are some resources to help:
From organic gardening:
The Permaculture Research Institute has a great 4 part series on “Getting Kids into Gardening”:
Great curriculum for children and gardening from Presbyterian Church
From National Gardening association
From Container Gardening for kids
Kids Gardening and “helping young minds grow.”
Earth Easy’s Guide
Some Other Ideas for Kids garden crafts