Motor Development and Gardening

As children grow and learn, they develop certain sets of skills that will transfer over into adult life. Two of these skills are motor skills! Both fine and gross motor skills can be developed and maintained through gardening. Your fine motor skills refer to the smaller, more intricate muscles which aid in motions such as drawing or typing. Your gross motor skills refer to the larger muscles involved in walking or crawling.

Fine Motor Skills

Gardening allows children to develop their fine motor skills through planting seeds, making holes in the soil, or using a small hand held shovel. As adults, we use our fine motor skills to clap, work a zipper on a jacket, or even use a untensil. In general, fine motor skills refer to how you move and how your muscles coordinate these movements. This is an important skill that needs to be built up and then maintained.

Gardening and even playing with gardening tools can help children to navigate their newfound freedom in a healthy and positive way. Letting your child maneuver their seeds into soil or rockwool is a great way to start strengthening their muscles, and teaching them independence. As children grow, putting seeds into pre made holes can be made more advanced by getting the child to make the hold themselves, use tools, or to get the seeds out of the packages one by one. These repetitive motions will fine tune the fine motor skills, while the gardening aspect can have endless benefits. These benefits can include developing a growth mindset, decreased stress levels, provide fun exercise options, and engaging all the senses. 

Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills can also be influenced, maintained, and developed in the garden. Walking or running through outdoor or indoor gardens builds vital muscles for adulthood. Picking up pots full of flowers, transporting baskets full of fruits or vegtables, or pulling up root vegetables are just some examples of a gardens ability to develop these skills in a fun and engageing way.

Having a child help carry a basket of fresh tomatoes back to the house can help with balance and coordination, even from a young age; though we recccomend something a little lighter and less likely to roll around for really little ones! By instilling a love for gardening early in life, children can develop healthier habits such as working and strengthening these muscles regularly without even realizing it.

Life skills

There are several life skills that gardening teaches that can be carried through into adulthood. Gardening can teach children:

  • Independance- Children learn through self play in the garden that they can do things completely themselves. This can sometimes be a parents first introduction to letting a child figure out a "dangerous" situation carefully for the first time (with supervision of course!). This can be as simple as letting them figure out how to avoid the thornes on a rose bush to using a pair of clippers to cut down their first zucchini.
  • Growth Mindset- Children learn that failures can be a lesson early on in life when plants do not sprout that it is a disappointment. Overall they still learned how to plant and what they can change next time. A failure is just an opporuinuty to learn and grow for the next time.
  • Promote Creativity- Children tend to be curious about just about everything, and with hundred of seeds to grow the opportunities are sky high. As children become more comfortable with gardening, they often want to start experimenting with different types of seeds, or even cross pollination of plants. 
  • Responsibility- Children quickly become aware that if they do not care for their plants daily it will not survive. The disappointment is real when a plant dies, but it is a vital lesson in responsibility for children. This responsibility is often seen translated into other areas of life as well, such as more responsibility with their own belongings.
  • Planning and organizing- Once a garden is established, making your child a part of the planning process is a huge benefit. It teaches collaboration and is  esssantial in team building skills for the future. Giving them the opportunity to plan out the seeds to buy, determining how much space they will need for each plant, and asking questions to sharpen their critial thinking skills.

In conclusion, gardening can develop a varitey of skills in a child and promote a more positive outlook on life. Why not start gardening today with your little one and see where the adventure takes you?