With spring on the horizon, most families are counting the days until they can get out more after spending much of the winter indoors safe from the arctic air and mounds of snow just waiting to be shovelled. It will be a literal “breath of fresh air” to get out in the garden once again and if you are a foster carer, what better way is there to have fun with the children whilst teaching them something of value? Who doesn’t need a lesson in sustainability these days? Besides being something important for them to learn early on in life, it can be great fun working with soil and all the things we teach our kids not to do – such as play in muddy puddles, as Peppa Pig would say.
Lesson One: Waste Isn’t Always Waste
The first lesson kids can learn is about what we call “green waste”. That is anything biodegradable that we can make compost with. Foster children are often thrilled at the idea of scraping their plates into the compost bin instead of in the bin. They like to watch it grow day by day. In fact, one of the things we learn as foster carers when signing on with fostering agencies like thefca.co.uk in Wales is that our activities with the foster children in our care should be light and fun. It’s therapeutic for them!
Lesson Two: The Importance of Water
Next on the list is teaching them just how important water is. Just as we need to drink our three glasses of water each day, so too, do plants need to “drink” their fill as well. However, we don’t want to give them too much water either. It is also a good time to teach our children and foster children as well that we can harvest some of the very best water for our plants to drink from those rainy days of spring. It’s free and there are few chemicals in the water which makes for a good lesson as well.
Lesson Three: Preparing the Garden Bed and Planting
This is where children seem to have the most fun early on. They love to dig in the dirt and so we can use that joy to teach them how to turn the soil, preparing it to receive the seeds we are about to plant. They also love dropping tiny seeds into the holes they’ve created, so all in all, it makes for a day of fun for everyone involved (until bath time that is, but a bit of bubbles fixes that).
Lesson Four: Caring for the Plants and Harvesting
As the tiny seedlings begin popping their head out from under the soil children will spend hours walking row by row to see if any new life has sprung. Then as they grow and need to be fed and watered, foster children will want to learn how to take the compost from the bin they have such fun with and how to use the hose to water their “babies.”
You can teach children so many lessons from gardening that even you, as a foster carer, will be amazed at all the things gardening has taught you about life. Happily, the best thing about it is that these are the lessons in life that are actually fun to learn.