Gardening with your child can be very beneficial for their development. It can help boost their mood, physical health and logistical thinking. Gardening can also teach children a huge amount about nature and the planet, hopefully encouraging them to take good care of it in the future.
Of course, if your child is going to follow in your green-fingered footsteps, they’ll need some tools to help them out. There are a lot of gardening tools on the market, specifically aimed at children, that are easier for kids to manage than full-sized tools. There are also a few things to consider before deciding which tools will be the best choice for them:
Benefits of Gardening for Kids
Spending time outdoors is essential to a child’s development, and interacting with nature can encourage your child to grow into an individual who cares about the planet. Gardening can teach kids invaluable lessons, build confidence, and so much more. Here are some other benefits that gardening can offer children:
- When gardening, children have to engage almost all of their senses. Whether they’re smelling freshly cut grass, admiring bright flowers, or feeling the texture of soil and seeds, gardening offers a sensory experience like no other.
- Gardening can help your child build physical strength, as well as improve hand eye coordination and motor skills. Spending time digging, planting and weeding will improve your child’s strength and fitness.
- Gardening can be a great way to encourage children to eat more fruit and veg. They’ll get a huge sense of achievement from growing a crop, and will be more excited about trying the end product. Together, you and your child can whip up delicious salads or healthy desserts with the vegetables and fruit you have grown.
- Gardening can teach patience. Forget the short-term satisfaction your child may get from their favourite movie, biscuit or video game – growing something from scratch is a long process! Your child will soon learn to be patient, nourishing their plants even when the results aren’t immediately visible.
The Benefits of Using Kids Gardening Tools
With all the above benefits about getting kids out in the garden in mind, you’re probably keen for them to start gardening as soon as possible.
So, is it really necessary for children to have children-specific tools, or can they just use anything that’s lying around?
Overall, the gardening experience can be made a lot more pleasant for children if they have their own tools to use, especially because kids gardening tools will be lighter and easier to manage than full-size options.
Whilst some children might be able to manage a standard trowel, it will likely be a bit large and heavy for small hands. One of the greatest benefits of buying tools specifically intended for kids is that children won’t be put off gardening by having to use heavy tools that make their arms ache.
On top of this, children often get excited about having their own mini versions of adult tools and machines, and will likely be a lot more enthusiastic about gardening if they have their own apparatus to use.
Choosing the Right Size Tools
Most kids garden tools are intended for children aged 3 + because that’s the age when it’s considered they’ll be able to handle them safely.
Buying your child the right size tools will depend on how big they are for their age. Hand tools that have been designed for children should be suitably small; however, you may need to check the size of any long-handled tools.
To give you a rough idea, long-handled tools that measure around 60 cm should be suitable for 3-year-olds. If you need something for older children, a tool around 85 cm long should be suitable for children of approximately 5 – 8 years old.
When buying kids garden tools, it’s a good idea to check the specifications of the tools that come included, and physically hold a tape measure up against your child. This will give you an idea of whether the item is going to be massive for them, too tiny, or a good size (you can also factor in a bit of ‘growing room’ too).
A small watering can is a great tool for kids as well, and it’s much easier for them to carry than a heavy full-size watering can.
Pieces in the Set
Children’s gardening tools often come in sets. Of course, you can buy tools individually, but it can get expensive. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a matching set of tools?
There’s no ‘standard’ for what comes included in a gardening kit. But the items that will probably be most useful for your child, if you want them to genuinely be able to get stuck into the garden, are a trowel and hand fork.
Some gardening kits may included long-handled tools like rakes and spades. Spades can keep children occupied with digging, especially if you’re already digging a certain area, and let them tag along without doing too much damage. Similarly, small rakes allow children the satisfaction of clearing up some leaves, or turning over topsoil, if they’re not as interested in planting specific items.
The tools you should look for in a set depend on your child’s personality and what you think will inspire them in the garden. Small watering cans are often a winner, as children love to help out with the watering but struggle to carry regular watering cans (which can lead to them getting soaked!).
Small wheelbarrows tend to be a huge hit with kids; they make it easier for them to transport tools around the garden, and can also give kids a real sense of purpose if they are tasked with jobs involving the wheelbarrow. For example, they can be genuinely helpful by taking weeds off to the compost heap for you!
Be wary of any gardening kit that contains a lot of different tools and items, especially if the set is quite cheap. The quality is unlikely to be as high as sets at the same price with just a couple of items. This is great if you are happy for your child to use all the tools as toys, but they may not be as useful for practical gardening.
Gardening Tool Construction Material
Kids garden tools tend to be made of plastic, wood or metal. There are pros and cons to each material:
Plastic is the most popular material for younger kids. The best kids gardening tools for kids under 5 years old will be made from plastic.
Plastic is durable, waterproof and low maintenance. If plastic tools get covered in soil, they can be easily washed or wiped clean. Plastic is also very safe. The tools usually have rounded edges and no joins so they can’t hurt or pinch little fingers. Perhaps most importantly, plastic is very lightweight so it’s unlikely to hurt if dropped on an unsuspecting toe (yours or theirs!).
Older kids may prefer wooden and metal gardening tools. These have less of a ‘toy’ like feel, making them a great step up from plastic tools. More similarly to adult tools, these will have a wooden handle and a metal head. As a result, they’re generally stronger than plastic tools and better equipped for ‘tougher’ gardening work than plastic items.
The downside to wooden or metal gardening tools is that they aren’t as weather resistant, so your child will need to be careful to put them away at the end of the day. Metal parts can rust, while wood is susceptible to rot over time. It’s important that the tools are put away dry, and stored correctly.
Wood and metal gardening tools may have sharper edges, which means there’s a little more potential for injury. They are usually heavier than plastic tools as well, so may not be the best choice for younger children.
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