We all know how difficult it can be to keep kids on the right path. With temptations coming at them (and us) from every angle, it can be easy to raise kids that are totally disconnected from the natural world, kids who don't rejoice in healthy food, who are clued to their screens and who know little about the wider world or the global effects of the decisions they make. Growing food is together with your children is one of the best ways to raise ethical citizens who will be good custodians for our planet in the years to come. Even without a garden or outside space, you can start your kids on the right path by growing food indoors. Here are some tips to help you re-engage your little renegades:
Lead By Example
Children learn by watching. They will take their cues from you, and from the other adults in their lives. Lead by example by starting to grow food yourself, by reducing, reusing and recycling, by engaging with nature, even in the middle of a city. Soon, where you lead, they will be sure to follow.
Engage With Nature
Engaging with nature is a crucial part of understanding how to grow food at home and is key to success in your endeavours. Take time to spend time outside with your kids, observing plants and how they grow, getting to know the ecosystems around you. The lessons you learn outdoors can be put to good effect when you begin growing food at home.
Start With Their Favourites
When trying to encourage kids to grow food with you in your home, it is important to allow them to make some of the important decisions. Rather than buying in all the seeds yourself, try to choose seeds together. Begin by growing things that your child enjoys eating – strawberries are often a firm favourite, and sweet fresh peas also often appeal.
Give Them Some Control
Let your child take charge of some of their own planting – that way, they will feel a sense of accomplishment when they taste their first delicious home-grown produce. As well as allowing them some freedom about what they plant, make sure they also have some control for caring for their plants, and for harvesting when it is time. Kids will love the responsibility and the freedom and will be more likely to create healthy habits that last when they have some control over what happens. Help them to succeed, but loosen the reigns a little as you do so.
Make It Easy & Fun
Kids will be more likely to stick with growing their own if they don't find it too difficult. Start with things that are easy to grow, that give relatively quick rewards for minimal efforts. Salad leaves can be good for this, radishes, peas... there are a lot of options. But remember to pitch your activities correctly, so children don't fail and give up before they have hardly started. Things won't always go right – but making it easy means they won't mind so much when things don't go according to plan.
It is also important to remember that growing your own food is meant to be fun!