By: Victoria de Dios
Young children are naturally drawn to Montessori “practical life” activities, especially those related to care of their environment. I believe kindergarten children have a basic need to make connections with their surroundings. Caring for plants is one way to allow small children to have a healthy and fun activity that gives them an active role in taking care of their home. It can also help develop new skills like watering and planting, learning about plant processes, and growing their own food.
When looking for plants, I suggest getting one the same height as your child, to make it easy for them to observe and care for. Try to find plants with a variety of shapes, textures, and colors for children to engage their senses (touch, sight, and smell). Plants with flowers or edible leaves or fruits are especially interesting for young children. Safety is very important so be sure the plant is kid-friendly and does not cause allergies or other health issues.
Give your child responsibility for the plant, but keep an eye on them to ensure it is getting a suitable amount of water and sunlight. Plants with smooth leaves should also be wiped with a damp cloth. Older child can be involved in sowing seeds or planting seedlings, since this is a really exciting activity for them. Encourage your child to observe how the plant changes and discuss with them about the needs and growth process of the plant.
You can create a basic ‘plant care tray’ with a child size watering can, a small spray bottle with water for spraying and cleaning leaves, a soft cloth, and a child-size apron to protect their clothes.
Caring for plants builds our respect and appreciation of nature so go ahead and open your child’s eyes to the wonderful world of plants!