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Stuck in the Mud - Gardening with Early Years Children with Special Educational Needs.

The garden is the perfect place for children to blossom, especially regarding their sensory stimulus and motor skills. Connecting with the natural surroundings help their social skills develop, as well as their confidence. As human beings, we are made to be surrounded by nature and this activity is ideal.

Each plant provides a unique colour, shape, texture and smell. This is beneficial in terms of sensual stimulus. It can help you discover as a team what they like and dislike. They may even find new senses.

A neat and tidy garden can help their mind focus and keep them calm. Having a specialised walkway to their chosen space of simply cordoned off area can be a way in which to provide this.

So, we've just learnt about the benefits of gardening for children. Now let's learn about how you can help prepare your children for gardening - and more specifically, children with Autism.

For children who have never gardened before, a good idea may be to talk through or write down the processes step by step. This can help avoid confusion and help direct focus onto one task. For children with Autism, who may find it more challenging to understand instructions, breaking down those steps into smaller chunks may help even more! We recommend for all steps to use understandable terms, saying one step at a time, and to avoid any jargon. Furthermore, if your child enjoys learning topics by reading and writing - writing down the steps may be highly beneficial. Writing down topics may result in better absorption, especially if your child struggles to comprehend verbalised instructions.

Now, what style of plants should I buy to start gardening with my children?

Some children find it hard to grasp the concept of time and how aspects of life are not always instant. Growing a seed from scratch may not be beneficial if this is a factor as there are no visible changes for a brief period. However, a pre-grown plant or one which has begun to shoot up allows the child to be able to engage on a better level. They may enjoy watching the plant flower and display its beautiful colours; so much so, that it becomes a hobby for them.

So, in summary, gardening has so many positive aspects!

  • Using your hands stimulate certain aspects of the brain as well as the concept of learning something new. The garden is the perfect spot to dig in with your shovel and get planting new life. There is no better feeling than observing something you created become a whole new lease of life. It is not just the plants that tickle your senses because the soil also has its own array of textures from loose twigs, to stones to insects. The smell of fresh compost can be invigorating for those green-fingered children.

  • Plants and trees provide our daily oxygen and adding more of these to our home spaces can allow us as human beings to flourish. Also, children may want to spend more time outdoors in the fresh air which is perfect for overall health and wellbeing. A garden filled with colour, smell and texture is a garden full of love.

  • Gardening is not just a solo activity because you can work as a team, get the whole family involved and even enter competitions. This allows their confidence to sprout up and blossom. The child can also engage with other children, without the social standard that perceives verbal communication to be key. Your child can develop the ability to work with others whilst creating something beautiful.

Embrace the horticultural world, dig up those pesky weeds and water the plants.

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