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by Ann Sanders

Children love dirt! Gardening is a perfect excuse to get dirty! Gardening is also a major component of Practical Life that children learn to master in a Montessori environment.


In addition to presenting amazing health benefits, gardening allows children to be engaged in a process that does not produce an immediate result. This teaches children to be patient and provides an incredible feeling of accomplishment allowing them to fully enjoy fruits of their labor.

Many parents have difficulties making their kids eat vegetables. A surefire method to address this difficulty is to make kids grow their own vegetables. Your own vegetable garden may be too challenging for your kid to handle. So, let’s take a look at how to make a vegetable garden just for your kids.

Many kids enjoy staying outdoors. They love to run in the garden, climb trees, dig in the dirt and some even enjoy watering your lawn and garden. Children are curious about nature, too!

So, why a vegetable garden? Vegetables germinate and grow quickly and they can be immediately eaten after harvesting. With that said, your kid will enjoy having his own vegetable garden, planting seeds, watching them sprout and grow, watering, cultivating, adding organic fertilizer and finally harvesting their own produce to eat.


Having his own vegetable garden will also teach your kid some responsibility. It will also enhance their self-esteem. To allow your kid to take advantage of the many benefits of having his own vegetable, it should be planned out well by both the parents and the kid.

Here are 7 tips to help you create a garden with your kids.

#1. Find an area that is accessible and suitable for your kid.
Ensure it gets a lot of sunlight and is near a water source and has the best soil.  You want to make sure that your kid’s garden has all the essentials that will make a successful vegetable garden. You can create a small plot in your garden or even a sandbox. Try to position your kid’s vegetable garden near your own garden. The best location though is in his play place where he can pick a vegetable to eat while playing.

#2. Allow your child to choose the layout for his vegetable garden.
It does not necessarily have to be the usual rectangular shape. A small plot or sandbox converted into a garden bed will provide your kid with a sense of ownership and the responsibility that goes with it. It can also be a garden consisting of beautifully designed pots which your child chose. Your kid may also opt for a small garden bed. A round, vegetable garden with divisions for different plants can also be fun and exciting. Encourage your kid to use his creativity in designing his vegetable garden so it becomes uniquely his own. To add color and excitement your kid’s vegetable garden, you can help him plant some colorful flowers such as sunflowers and marigolds.

Do not place a fence on your kid’s vegetable garden. If it needs to have a fence, build one which your kid can easily open his own.

#3. The soil you have in your yard may be used for your kid’s vegetable garden.
Make sure though it is free of weeds and insects that can harm seedlings. Make sure too that it is rich in nutrients. Using a soil mix is the best for your kid’s vegetable garden because they are already a mixture of fertilizer, vermiculite, compost, topsoil and peat moss. Remember that everything in your kid’s vegetable garden should endure its success.

#4. Choose the right kinds of vegetables to plant. To get your kid excited about his vegetable garden have him plant vegetables that are easy to grow. You want your kid to have a successful vegetable garden and it helps a lot if you guide him to choose the right vegetables. Here are some easy to grow veggies perfect for your kid’s vegetable garden:

Tomatoes          Cherry tomatoes             Radish           Broccoli             Carrots            Cucumber               Cabbage

          Beets                 Beans             Peas                    Strawberries                  Eggplants                 Squash

#5. Allow your kid to use real tools and not plastic garden tools.
It may be a challenge to find real tools that are safe for kids to use. Small garden gloves are not easy to find. Real spades or hoes with short handles on the other the other hand are easy to find. By using real tools, your kid will feel that you are giving important and appreciating work for him on his vegetable garden.


#6 Have your kid start planting his vegetable seeds during the early spring.
It is also best to have your kid start planting indoors. The seeds have better chances of growing successfully because exposure to the sun, water and temperature are better controlled than when they are planted directly to the soil. It also allows your kid to start his vegetable garden even during winter or autumn.

#7. Have your kid use a plant mister to water his young seeds.
He can start using a watering can when the seeds start to mature. When you are preparing a vegetable garden for your kid, make sure to only use things that will ensure its success. When he starts harvesting he will be eating vegetables he himself planted and nurtured.

Have you helped your kids with a vegetable garden? Has your kid been eating his vegetables with so much gusto? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section. You may also wish to share this article with some of your fellow moms.

Source: Montessori Rocks

Ann Sanders, is Founder and Editor of A Green Hand; a blog dedicated to offering a platform for gardening and healthy living enthusiasts to exchange ideas so that we can all play a role in making our world a better place. Her goal is to make everything easy for readers by providing information that answers all those questions racing through their mind. 

Maria Montessori wrote, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

Oh, yes, of course! This is easy! But note, this is different from, “Never help a child with a task at which he is already successful.” There are so many times we“help,” and then we fall into another Montessori quote from The Absorbent Mind, once “… independence has been reached, the adult who keeps on helping becomes an obstacle.”

Let us acknowledge two things. First, help always comes from a good place. Second, help isn’t always helpful.

True help always comes from a good place. Washing the dishes and accidentally breaking your partner’s favorite mug, straightening up messy (carefully organized) papers, mixing up the “donate” and laundry piles, we were just trying to help.

It is the same when we are helping children. You’re taking a bit of time with that zipper; here, let me “help” you. That bucket looks really heavy, let me “help” you. You keep dropping the items you’re trying to pick up, let me “help” you. We provide the help we think is necessary, and we are proud of ourselves, thinking we’ve done a service.


And then we get frustrated when we have to keep zipping the zipper day after day or a child’s care when walking with that water-filled bucket doesn’t increase. Dropped items are left where they fall, waiting for an adult to care for them.

When we provide unnecessary help, we are creating dependence. We are sending the child the message she is incapable, so why would she even try?


Sometimes, frequently even, we have to sit through occasions that make us feel uncomfortable. It’s challenging to watch a child work on a button for seemingly countless minutes. It’s difficult to sit back when a child is putting something away and can’t quite get his hands and eyes and brain to work together. It’s hard not to jump in when the water is taking days to get all mopped up and then is spilled again.

But this is problem-solving in action. They will not learn if we do things for them. That’s not just lip service; they truly will not learn. Without the opportunity to practice and make mistakes, their coordination cannot develop. Without fussing with that zipper or button or shoelace, they will not learn.


Learning is a coordination of mistakes and practice and repetition, until the right skills in the right sequence come together and can be repeated.

When we prevent the practice, we prevent the learning, and then we really are an obstacle to development.

Adapted from: Baan Dek

“[The young child] cannot distinguish well between the real and the imaginary,
between things that are possible and things that are merely ‘made up’.”

—Maria Montessori, Times Education Supplement, 1919

The young child believes what he sees, hears, and experiences. The young child cannot distinguish between what’s real and/or make-believe. Remember, everything – virtually everything – is new and amazing to children. Observing and discovering nature is fantastic enough for a child under the age of six. Watch him explore his surroundings. You need not seek out the extraordinary or make up fantastic stories to entertain little children.

We want to provide the best foundation possible for our children as their brains are developing. Children readily believe what we tell them, so it is important to be aware that they only learn to conceptualize after the age of six or seven. Before this time, it is not possible for them to distinguish between what’s real or imaginary.

Real vs Make-Believe

When Maria Montessori opened her first school in 1907, she supplied it with dolls and toys and entertained the children with fairy tales. In one instance, she observed children leaving the story time to watch a worm crawling in the garden. In another, she noticed the children preferred to serve refreshments to a visitor rather than play in the doll corner.

Montessori discovered that children, as imitators, love to do what adults do – not just pretend to be doing those things. Her observations inspired the creation of the Practical Life activities, such as slicing bananas, polishing silver, cleaning windows, and pouring water or juice. Montessori brought reality into the classroom and grounded all the activities with furniture and equipment sized to suit children. She observed that children develop their intelligence, creativity, and imaginations by hands-on experience.


A child’s “natural” fantasy play is based on what he knows. If you watch children under the age of seven, their play is very imaginative. You’ll probably observe them recreating a scenario from everyday experiences – taking on the roles of real-life characters with whom they have come into contact. Whether they are “playing house,” or “going to work,” or “becoming a doctor, teacher, or trash collector,” they are enacting what they have learned or observed in their daily life.

Using the Imagination as They Grow

Recognizing that children need a firm footing in reality, Montessori waited until the elementary school years to introduce myths, fables, and fairy tales. These stories present ideas not necessarily based on the child’s reality. Montessori’s Five Great Lessons are stories that introduce children to the cosmos and the history of Earth. More than just learning facts, stories encourage a child’s curiosity and imagination. In To Educate the Human Potential, Maria Montessori says, “By offering the child the story of the universe, we give him something a thousand times more wonderful and mysterious to grasp with his imagination, in a cosmic drama no fable can rival.”


What Children Need

Young children enjoy books and stories based on real life and the things they know. They love to hear about other children doing things they recognize and can relate to. They also learn to understand the world – expand their intelligence – when concepts are presented in a clear, realistic, and precise form. Fantasy to a child under six is confusing, because it is not part of his concrete experience.

For example, a young child may be told stories about elephants, bears, and unicorns. Some of these live in the real world and can be seen at the zoo, but others are make-believe. “Can we go to the zoo to visit the unicorns?” one little girl asked her father. How do you explain this to a three-year-old who has seen books about unicorns as well as those about elephants? Which one is real and which is not?

Storytelling about real children doing everyday things helps ground young children with a sense of security and self-assurance. A child may not be able to tell the difference between the big bad wolf and a real wolf. Even when an adult tries to explain rationally, the lesson in the story may be understood in part, but the big bad wolf will still be real!

Keep It Real

Keep it real to help children make sense of the world around them. With your guidance, they will discover what’s important to know, and eventually will be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. The world is fantastic just as it is.


“Imagination relies on a solid foundation of real-life experiences, accompanied by ample opportunity for exploration and experimentation – this includes exploration and experimentation through pretending or imagining alternative outcomes.”
—Sarah Werner Andrews, “The Development of Imagination and the Role of Pretend Play”, 27th International Montessori Congress

Source—by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.

How to Set Boundaries!

When your baby cries and you rush to the rescue, your unconditional love creates a deep bond. But all too soon that sweet baby starts testing the limits. Establishing firm, clear boundaries at every developmental stage will provide security and encourage responsibility.

First, set limits without arbitrary threats – no “if then” statements such as, “if you don’t pick up your toys then you can’t have dessert.” Your goal is to encourage cooperation and responsible behavior. Reasonable expectations followed by logical consequences for misbehavior are effective. When children know what your response will be and that you have clear expectations for their behavior, they will learn to comply and will spend much less energy testing your will. Children take control, often inappropriately, when parents don’t set clear boundaries and lovingly follow through to enforce them.


Tell your child when it’s time to put the toys away. Be specific and positive: “Please pick-up your toys now. It’s almost time for dinner.” Make sure it’s a reasonable request for the child to do it alone or offer to help. Don’t coax or remind. If the task is not done as requested a logical consequence should follow. For example, if you have to pick up the toys then you should put them away in a secure place to be brought out in the future when your child makes a commitment to clean up.


If your children misbehave in public, such as the grocery store or a restaurant, leave them home with a responsible adult the next time the family has a special outing. Always offer the opportunity to try again. It will likely take several repetitions before your child believes that you mean what you say. Consistency is the rule.


When you set age-appropriate boundaries, your child will develop confidence and self-control as well as the ability to make good decisions over time. Children with these skills are well on their way to becoming independent, responsible, contributing adults.

Lynn Fisher,

Head of School


We follow through. It’s one of the ways we support children. We don’t simply say something once. We demonstrate, observe, model, assist and remind.


Everything is neutral to a child. There is no “right” way to sit on a chair, except that we have all agreed this is how we sit, and so it is our responsibility as educators to help a child know the acceptable way.

We help a child become part of the community when we help him to do things the acceptable way. It makes us uncomfortable when someone skips the line or when someone speaks rudely to another.

We make social agreements for appropriate behavior, and it’s how we function as a society. In the same way older children usher younger children into the classroom community by demonstrating how we function as a classroom group.

There is a right way to do things in our classrooms too, and the adults and the more experienced children help the younger ones learn the right way.


But why does it matter?

Does it really matter if a child carries everything carefully, arms bent at the elbows, whether carrying a box with a lid or a tray with water in a glass?

Yes, it absolutely matters.

Where’s the harm in twirling a bucket as you walk or tucking in your chair with a hip-check, puzzle in hand?

There might not be harm, per se, but there could be harm in what might follow.

Let’s follow the path of the dominoes.

If I don’t carry something respectfully, I might not be showing care for that material. If I don’t show care for the material, I might not take it seriously and use it to its fullest benefit. If I don’t take my work seriously, why should I respect the work of others? If I don’t respect others’ work, I might not respect others’ bodies or work or personal space. I might not care that carrying that box without care means the pieces are smashing together, chipping the paint until nothing is respected and cared for. I might not care that my twirling bucket sloshed water onto someone else’s careful work. I might casually bump into another child, the same way I casually bump my chair into place.

Let’s step back off the ledge and take a deep breath.

But in reality, everything matters. The little things become the big things. How you carry an item translates into how you carry yourself; how you treat materials becomes how you treat others.


So in Montessori we pay attention. We demonstrate, we model, and we support until it becomes second nature.  Everything for a child is overt and challenging until it becomes her habit. Children’s habits influence their personalities.

We aim to be disciplined, so a child can become disciplined. And all of a sudden it becomes visible. A child stands up from her chair, basket in hand, half turns away from her chair, then places the basket on the table and tucks in her chair using both her hands. A child laughs and says, “You can go first” when there’s a traffic jam at the doorway. A child is asked to tidy a shelf; we turn around and it’s flawless.

We have to be endlessly patient, and we cultivate this patience actively. The transformation, as a child is developing care, control, awareness of his surroundings and of others, is magical. It can only grow where the seeds are sown. With care, with tending, with nurturing support, and modeling, self- discipline bursts into bloom, and we take joy.

Adapted from: Baan Dek