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HEALTH BENEFITS OF FAMILY GARDENING Give Your Kid the Gift of a Green Thumb
Yes, there will always be football season, basketball season, and soccer season, but right now, it’s gardening season. That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and play in the dirt. If you’ve been searching for a way to get the kids away from technology and engaged with the real world, gardening is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your kids’ development. For example, gardening can improve your children’s analytical abilities. As Dr. Wendy Matthews says, “Gardening exercises important reasoning, initiation, planning, and organization skills.” Furthermore, several studies, including one at Texas A&M University, suggest that gardening improves a child’s attitude toward fruits and vegetables and may make them more likely to choose them as snacks. Gardening helps kids identify with where their food is coming from, and nothing tastes better than a freshly picked strawberry or pea pod they grew themselves. Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and a parent himself, and his co-author, Rob Knight, emphasize the health benefits of garden time in their book, “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.”The two found that exposure to different microbes, like those found in a garden, strengthens a child’s immune system and makes them less likely to develop allergies.
If this is your first time gardening, you don’t need much to get started. Grab a few shovels, a pair of gloves for each family member, and fresh potting soil, and you’ll be set. Then, you can decide together which plants you’d like to grow! Carrots are fun because of the surprise factor — just imagine your child discovering that the part they eat grows below the ground! Peas are tasty and fairly easy to grow, as are strawberries. The options really are endless. Depending on the growing season in your area, you can choose to buy seeds or opt for rooted plants.
Last but certainly not least, the best part of gardening as a family is the healthy, fresh produce you’ll get to enjoy all summer long!
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