8 Montessori-Inspired Tips for Gardening with your Toddler


Gardening with your toddler can provide valuable opportunities to learn about nature, caring for their environment, and patience. It can also help foster a sense of independence and encourage a love for healthy, fresh foods. Working together to collaborate and plant the seeds and plants, care for them and observe their growth, and reap the benefits of hard work and patience when you harvest is an immense exercise in executive functioning as well. Here, we will share tips for successfully planting gardens with toddlers, and how to encourage independence along the way.



1. Start With Small And Manageable Projects

When gardening with your toddler, start with small, manageable projects to avoid frustration and ensure success. Planting herbs or vegetables in pots is a great way to begin. In colder climates, start seeds indoors by a window, allowing children to care for plants in a smaller, more manageable space. As they gain experience and confidence, move on to bigger projects like raised beds or a small vegetable garden.


2. Involve children in every step of the process


Encouraging independence involves involving children in every aspect of gardening. Before you begin, find books at the library that discuss plant life cycles or gardening to provide context for their activities. Then, let your toddler participate in selecting what to plant, preparing the soil, planting seeds or seedlings, watering the plants, and harvesting produce. This involvement fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, ensuring they'll take better care of the garden.


3. Use child-sized tools and equipment

To foster independence while gardening with your toddler, give them child-sized tools and equipment. Adult-sized tools can be frustrating and difficult for them to handle. Child-sized gloves, shovels, watering cans, and wheelbarrows make it easier for them to join in successfully, boosting their confidence and capability. It's also crucial for safety as they learn to use real tools for real work.


4. Keep it simple and low-maintenance

When gardening with your toddler, simplicity and low-maintenance are key. Choose easy-to-grow plants like herbs, lettuce, and cherry tomatoes. These plants grow quickly, so children can see results sooner. Avoid high-maintenance flowers or fruits that need a lot of pruning. Keeping it simple ensures success and prevents frustration for both children and parents.


5. Create a routine and stick to it

Establishing and sticking to a routine is crucial when gardening with your toddler (or with anything else). This means setting regular times for watering plants, checking for pests or disease, and harvesting produce. A routine helps children know what to expect and encourages them to take care of the garden independently. Make sure the routine is realistic and manageable for both children and parents. Consider adding a sticker to your family calendar on watering days as a visual reminder to support your child's independence.


6. Use the garden as a sensory learning opportunity

Gardening with your toddler offers great learning opportunities in nature, science, and math. Use the garden to discuss plant life cycles, the role of pollinators, and soil health. Practice math skills by measuring plant growth or counting harvested fruits and vegetables. Older children can keep a journal with pictures or measurements to track progress as the plants grow.


7. Encourage exploration and creativity

Promote independence and engagement in gardening with your toddler by encouraging exploration and creativity. Let children explore the garden using their senses—smelling leaves, touching stems, comparing flowers or colors, and eventually tasting the harvest! Engaging their senses helps them learn new vocabulary in a meaningful way, making it more memorable for them.
8. Celebrate successes and failures
It's crucial to celebrate both successes and failures when gardening with your toddler. Celebrate the first sprout that emerges and the first tomato harvested. But also acknowledge failures, like when a plant doesn't grow or a crop doesn't turn out as expected. Use these moments as learning opportunities, encouraging children to problem-solve and brainstorm ideas for improvement in the future.


Gardening with your toddler can be a rewarding experience for both children and parents. Start with small projects, involve your child in every step, use child-sized tools, keep it simple, establish a routine, and stick to it. This fosters independence, responsibility, and a love for nature and healthy foods.

Happy gardening!

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