young children in a row tending to a vegetable garden

For some of us, wrapping our heads around this different kind of ‘Back to School’ season is tough. Sure we’re getting back to schedules and routine, back to deadlines and homework, but with hours of screen time during online learning and then hours of unfilled time where there used to be extracurricular activities and sports, it’s going to be an adjustment. Not to mention all of that “togetherness” without a break! Do you have a plan to keep the little ones occupied and engaged? How are you going to keep the days from running into each other?

Recognizing Our Profound Need For Nature

“Ironically, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, as tragic as it is, has dramatically increased public awareness of the deep human need for nature connection, and is adding a greater sense of urgency to the movement to connect children, families and communities to nature,” says Richard Louv, a journalist and the author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, speaking with The New York Times.

This summer, many of us have forged a new deeper connection to nature, being one of the few activities available to us during the pandemic. What if we built on that connection throughout the school year?

Brianna Flavin, a content writer for Collegis Education lists some very good reasons to add garden time to your child’s school-from-home schedule:

  1. 1) It encourages them to eat healthier

    One study found that students involved in hands-on school gardening programs developed an increased snacking preference for fruits and vegetables.
  2. 2) It provides engaging, moderate exercise

    Teachers also report that children and young people take greater responsibility for their own health.
  3. 3) It builds a sense of confidence

    The process of tending a plant and seeing it bloom or produce food takes time and patience, but the payoff in satisfaction is equal to the investment.
  4. 4) It develops STEM & analytical abilities

    Weather cycles, measuring rainfall, and monitoring the insect life around the plants can foster a real scientific curiosity in your child.
  5. 5) It relieves stress

    “The main benefit of gardening is learning to relax,” says counselor and maternal child nurse Orly Katz, LCPC. “Gardening allows kids to be alone, it allows them to breathe fresh air and be in peace by themselves.”
  6. 6) It improves focus & memory

    Children perform better mentally when they have access to green space, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
  7. 7) It positively impacts mood & psychological wellbeing

    Gardening can serve as a powerful therapeutic tool against depression and anxiety.

Building Memories and Healthy Habits

If you know that getting the kids outside, engaging the senses, and connecting to nature is great in theory, but may be a struggle with your child, try starting slowly. Instead of kicking them outside, while they wail and bang on the door to be let back in, entice them once a month with a simple and fun gardening activity.

Al's Kids' Club offers fun, educational classes designed to nurture children's awareness, confidence and connections to the natural world, and foster hands-on learning.

From our Annual Kid’s Bulb Day, to using their imagination and creativity to build a garden in miniature, Al’s Kids’ Club allows children to participate at home by watching our tutorial videos so they can learn at the pace that’s just right for them.

Enabling children to explore the natural world around them and understand their effect on it feels like the right thing to do at a time that we’re being forced to slow down and do less. Soon enough, the world will open up again and we will be distracted from the quiet appreciation of the outdoors. Let’s strengthen those habits and build a lifelong love of nature in our kids while we have the chance.