When we think about our children’s education most people think about Literacy and Numeracy. Most education systems believe these are the important part of a child’s education. When I think about the most important things for my children I consider their life experiences and skills that will benefit them in the future. I believe that literacy and numeracy aren’t the only things that they need to help them survive and succeed.

Having the ability to provide for yourself and your family is an important part of our future and our children should experience many things to help them become a little self-reliant. This means showing them how to make things by hand, whether it’s with timber, steel, glass or wool, everyone should know how to make something. I think it’s also very important to know how to grow and cook food. There are many fantastic programs that teach school children how to garden and grow food, but I think this should also be something that’s learnt at home.

So here’s a few ways of helping your children get growing and includes some literacy and numeracy as well. (Just don’t tell them!)

This week in the garden it was time to plant some seeds and seedlings ready for winter. My boys enjoy choosing the veggies that they’d like to grow. They know the difference between a seed and a seedling and how each is planted. This is a great start!!

When gardening with kids it’s important to keep it fun and don’t take too long as they have a short attention span. Also try not to get too technical and if they make a few mistakes don’t worry, you can fix things when they’ve gone.  A good idea is to have a few small tools like hand trowels and watering cans that kids can easily hold. I don’t bother with gloves as I don’t mind my kids getting their hands dirty. It’s great for them to feel the earth and find worms.

Have all your equipment ready and explain each step that you’d like them to do. Archey planted carrot seedlings, so I explained in simple steps what he needed to do. I was taking a few photos (to share with you) so he was doing each step himself and really enjoyed it.

He moved back the mulch, added some compost and then dug a little hole for the seedling. He was very gentle taking each plant out of the punnet and planted them in each hole. A few pellets of chook manure were added, then the mulch and he watered each one with his watering can.

When planting seedlings you have to give each plant enough space to grow. So we discussed the space needed and worked out about 15cm distance between each one…there’s the maths lesson !!

After the seeds and seedlings were planted we needed to label them…here’s the literacy lesson. Archey wrote the names of the seeds, using the seed packet as a guide, on plastic labels. He then placed them with the appropriate seed and seedling. At 6 years old, this is a great lesson in writing and reading labels and he did a great job.


Another lesson for the boys was planting garlic. These needed to be planted in rows with even spacing. We measured the bed and marked 4 rows. After digging small trenches the boys planted the garlic (right way up) at 15cm intervals. They used the hand trowels as a guide (they have cm. guide) and after planting and watering Archey wrote another label, including the date. They understand that garlic takes months to grow so it’s a good idea to include the date planted so you don’t forget it.  More simple lessons for the kids without them even knowing. They just think it’s fun!!

You can see how easy it is to include children in many activities in the garden and how you can turn gardening into a learning session. They are many things to do with the kids that can become part of their broader learning, like composting, soil testing (pH is a great one), propagating and also looking at weeds and bugs in the garden.


All kids want to learn these things and we just need to give them an opportunity to experience it. With all this knowledge, and good food too, you are helping them thrive in so many ways. Isn’t that what we want for our kids? I know I do…


© cath manuel 14 april 2012

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