Hello Neighbors,

As a part-time employee of the Barrington Area Library, I am used to having my extra time taken up at home engaging with my three young children. However, as many have done during quarantine times, we desired to address a few back burner projects. One of the more manageable projects was to improve our home’s landscaping. Undertaking this endeavor could not be done without the kids, so, I needed to find ways to involve them while still completing the tasks. What I discovered through experience and research is sure to benefit our family, and hopefully yours, for many seasons to come.

Lesson One: Let them dig and dump!
The boys were well-pleased with using small shovels and their construction toys as equipment, alongside me as I was digging holes. At times they even wanted to use their “Super Gecko” muscles and push on the shovel with me. Another task they loved was dumping all of the mulch and rocks like it was a worksite. When they were bored, they would then wander off to other parts of the yard. Let us not forget that all of this gardening is exercise, so it wears them out!

Lesson Two: Explain things and ask them questions.
Despite things taking longer, these two simple interactions go a long way toward their education and enthusiasm for the job. Before bed we would talk even more when I would ask what they had fun doing and what portions they were not fond of. This is also a great way to expand upon their interest and find books which cover topics like bugs, dirt, animals, flowers, science, etc.

Lesson Three: Consult online resources.
I admit this was something that only happened after the outside work was nearing completion, but I am happy to have found these online resources. It allows me to focus on repetition and retention of all the knowledge that was learned. A fantastic website is www.kidsgardening.org. Looking under the “Educational Resources” tab, one will find parent and teacher resources, book lists, activities, and lesson plans among other topics. The next menu selection is “Gardening Toolbox,” which is beyond description. It works as a supplement to the educational resources and covers topics ranging from photosynthesis and square foot gardening, to nutrition, and creating storybook gardens.

The second site to visit is the PBS parents website. There is a terrific article on how children are affected mentally, physically and emotionally by gardening. At the bottom of the article there are more PBS-related resources and videos. https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/gardening-with-kids-how-it-affects-your-childs-brain-body-and-soul

I hope you all enjoyed this little post and that you find it beneficial in some way. Don’t forget to get those pumpkin seeds started if you want to skip the public patch this fall. Two pumpkin links are: https://www.gardenguides.com/138457-plant-pumpkin-seeds-kids.html and https://kidsgardening.org/pumpkin-time-grow-story/.

Stay safe,

Melissa Potoczek-Fiskin
Melissa is an Adult Services Assistant Librarian who has been working in libraries since 2008. She began working at Fox Lake District Library and later moved to the Barrington Area Library in 2017. Sharing ancestry knowledge and know-how alongside Kate Mills is her work passion. When outside of the library, one will find her playing and reading with her three children. Their favorite family pastimes are gardening, cooking, and exercise in some form.