Last week we looked at a few autumn activities you can do with your youngest children. We also showed some ways that you can extend your outdoor activities by bringing the fun inside. This week I’ll tell you about an experience that my husband had with our little guy who is in Kindergarten.
My husband loves having a garden. He always helped in the family garden when he was growing up and has fond memories of those times. We have continued the tradition in our family. We hope our kids can look back with similar fondness even when you have to pick rocks and pull weeds.
I can say presently, our children love to help choose plants in the spring, get them started, care for them, and harvest their veggies. There are some vegetables that I don’t think they would have been willing to try if they hadn’t grown them in our own garden.
In the last few weeks, it was time to put the garden to bed for the winter. The last things we needed to harvest were horseradish and cabbage. After that, pulling up all the tomato cages and replanting the tops of the horseradish completed the project. Tim decided to get Calvin involved in taking care of settling the garden for the winter.
They took care of the outdoor chores first. Like last week’s activities, the fun continued inside as well. They peeled and ground the horseradish. (Actually, they did these steps on the porch so they wouldn’t stink up the house). Then they chopped the cabbage. The cabbage went to two projects: pickled cabbage and sauerkraut. I’m sad to report that the kraut got moldy and had to be thrown out. But the pickled cabbage is delightful.
If you’ve ever tried to do chores and projects with a Kindergartener in tow, you know that you can get things done more efficiently without “help”. One of my biggest personal struggles is the tendency to let the kids veg out with screens while I accomplish things. However, our children need us to teach them about caring for and maintaining our home. So here are three lessons that kids learn when you get them involved in these kinds of projects.
A Little Botany
We homeschool, so we are always on the lookout for natural learning opportunities. Calvin got to learn about the difference between annuals and perennials. They harvested the cabbage just like our other veggies but replanted the tops of the horseradish so we have more next fall.
We teach our children that we are all responsible to care for and steward the earth. What seems like a huge, ethereal responsibility can be brought down to the practical level. We participate in stewardship in our own yard and garden. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone took great care and responsibility for the little square of ground right in front of them. The kids are never too young to start learning this lesson.
Satisfaction in a Job Well Done
I mentioned before that there are several vegetables that my kids have tried as a direct result of having grown those vegetables themselves. Our kids regularly enjoy the satisfaction of putting in some hard work, waiting patiently, then reaping the benefits. If you have never eaten a meal consisting mainly of home-grown ingredients, it just tastes better. Our kids have experienced this and I consider that a gift.
I live by the philosophy that learning is a life-long journey. But I also am usually surprised by how many lessons we can glean from the regular experiences of life. Our little garden plot grows more than vegetables. It grows love, character, and satisfaction. Who knew so much could come from a simple plot of dirt?
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