Child-sized gardening tools that are used only for gardening is something I feel strongly about
Having gardening tools that are kept separately from other tools, such as sandpit tools, and are only used for gardening shows children that digging in the garden has a different purpose to digging in the sandpit.
- Gardening is for growing things – namely food and flowers.Having tools that children recognise as gardening tools helps them to respect the garden as they learn that they can only dig in the garden when those tools available.
To show the value you place on garden tools as an instrument to produce food and flowers, I suggest you store them in a special place and put them back there when the gardening is finished. That way, when the children see the tools come out they know they are going to be doing important work that will help to feed themselves and others, including any vegetable eating pets in the centre, and the beneficial insects that help to pollinate the flowers.
- Child-sized gardening tools are also a must. For gardening to be enjoyable for children they need to be able to use the tools easily, and adult-sized tools are often too big or heavy for them to use.
Try to also choose tools that are metal, as they are easier to dig into harder soil that may have become compacted. It goes without saying that there are safety rules for children to adhere to when using metal garden tools.
- Garden tools should also be kept clean. This reduces the risk of contamination of the soil and plants from disease that might be harboured in old soil. The last thing we want to happen is for plants to die because some contaminant has been transferred to the soil through the use of dirty tools. This is another reason why garden tools should be different to sandpit tools.
I suggest making cleaning the tools part of the gardening experience, before putting them away safely.
Having garden tools specifically for that purpose shows children that you value their input in the garden, and I think makes gardening a little more special, which in turn helps teach them how to care for themselves, others, and Papatūānuku.
If you have enjoyed this blog post, why not see my post titled Keeping Children Safe While Gardening, where I discuss a range of considerations around health and safety when gardening with young children.
Other blog posts you might be interested in: