Child Sense: Remember your child’s dominant sense while starting a garden together

Priscilla J. Dunstan

Family activities are wonderful for creating memories, building family unity and having fun. It’s important to pick activities that the whole family can enjoy, remembering that not everyone enjoys things in exactly the same way. Building a spring garden together, while using each child’s dominant sense, can make each part of the process enjoyable for all.

The auditory child is patterned based with his thinking, so he will love the mathematics of planning a garden, and enjoy the drawing of plans and the picking out of flowers and vegetables. Be sure to discuss concepts like growth time, sunlight needs and watering recommendations, as all these are concepts they can understand easily. An older child will take great pride in learning which vegetable plants support the other, in a more holistic type of garden patch. The auditory child will be attentive to timely planting, and spot-on about knowing when vegetables or flowers should be available for picking. They will be good at the general upkeep of the garden, even before the flowers or vegetables are showing signs of life, and they will water and weed in a gradual process, a little each day.

The visual child will be able to envision the end product and give great insight into the color combinations, patterns and details no one else would ever have thought of. She will be excited to draw up detailed plans, and be sure to bring her to the nursery to pick out the plants – the visual stimulation of all the plants in one place will be a joy, and might spark new ideas. Your visual child will be the first ones to weed and straighten any plant growing out of line, and the first to notice any new growth. The visual child’s persistence in seeking perfection means he will eagerly maintain the garden, and truly enjoy the fruits of their labor: the vegetables perfectly presented on the table, or the flowers beautifully arranged in a vase.

The tactile child will love the actual planting process – in the ground digging, fertilizing and watering. Being doers, they will prefer the hard work stages of growing a garden. Expect them to get messy, so wear old clothes and make the rules clear in advance – in their enthusiasm, you could end up with a hole being dug to China, or a garden patch four times larger than expected. They will need to be monitored with the planting, as their focus is to get the job done, not necessarily to have it look pretty. They find it hard to conceptualize the future look of a garden, so plans (or rules) are very important to getting a garden that looks good when finished.

Fairies in the garden! Taste and smell children will respond to the possibilities of what could be, and their imaginations will play a great role. They won’t really respond to the reasoning behind why things should be planted in a particular place or order and will be more interested in the “feel” of the garden. They will like to build little home for imaginary creatures, so having a gnome looking after the beans, or the possibility of fairies living in the dahlias will spark their interest more than the actual plants. They will take great pride in showing their loved ones their garden, and preparing dinner with the produce, but perhaps they may still be fussy about the taste.

Many activities can be enhanced and adapted to encourage your child’s participation, and by understanding your child’s dominant sense you can enhance the aspects which your child will enjoy most, and know which parts will be a challenge