The garden in your home can make one of the most interesting places for little minds to explore the world around them, given it is transformed in a way which piques their natural curiosity. Outdoor play is important to develop resilience, build self esteem and learn how to cultivate healthy relationships; all important life skills for children. There’s a range of activities which can be undertaken in the garden to encourage young children to appreciate nature, such as collecting items (leaves, sticks or stones), jumping in muddy puddles or even having a picnic! The possibilities are endless, however it’s important to ensure that the garden is a safe and child-friendly place to ensure little ones feel relaxed and there is minimal risk of accidents from happening. Here’s how:
First and foremost, it’s essential to ensure that all gardening tools are safely stored away, because equipment such as metal forks and trowels, can cause serious injuries. You can opt to purchase a child-friendly set, if you’re little one is really enthusiastic about tending to the garden plants, as they are made from plastic and much safer to use. If you have toddlers, a pond is a definite no, but for older children, it can be intriguing to watch insects and other water creatures. Also, avoid planting thorny plants or those with berries to avoid any medical emergency. You may consider planting roses or peonies, but again, these are quite delicate and can easily be trampled upon, so think twice!
Keep it as natural as possible
You don’t need to bust your bank account by purchasing expensive items for the garden! There’s a chance that your child will not even find any of it interesting, because nature is as exciting as it gets. Tree stumps and stepping stones can be great for seating or an obstacle course, whilst a vegetable patch can engage children with understanding natural life processes. There’s also the option to create a sensory garden; colourful plants such as sunflowers and calendula alongside rustling grasses and curry plants or chocolate cosmos can be visually appealing and also help with advancing the other senses in your child. Not only does nature enable children to utilise their imagination to play with their findings, but it also allows them to absorb their surroundings and grow their critical thinking skills. If you are considering play equipment, swings and wendy houses tend to be cost effective options, as they maintain a child’s interest for longer!
Keep it varied
When it comes to planning a safe space for your child to play in the garden, the first thought which may come into mind is probably covering the entire surface with turf – don’t! Not only will this cause the garden space to become dull, but it’ll prevent your child from nurturing their inquisitiveness fully. Instead, create different zones which transition seamlessly with one another; turf may be ideal for where you may place a slide & swing set in order to provide a soft landing for your little ones, whilst stone or bark chippings can be useful to cover an area which is quite uneven and will most likely house a rattan furniture set for time out. Decking is also particularly great for erecting parasols or pergulas to take cover under during hot summer days.
Above all, the most important aspect of transforming your garden into a child friendly space is by YOU being present. From a young age, a child requires your time and attention to learn about the world around them and feel secure whilst doing so. Investing your time with your child in the garden will help your little ones associate it as being an enjoyable and safe space.