These are my 6 tips to make gardening with children with autism easy & fun. Gardening is such a fun way to build functional skills with children with autism and one of my absolute favorite activities in my learning house.
Spring is in the air and I am so excited to start gardening with the kids!
When I was searching for the space to house my learning center, I knew I wanted to find a house so that the kids would feel like they were coming to my home when they came for their therapy. I still can’t believe we were lucky enough to find a little house in Paris! Houses in Paris are really rare, as we are right in the heart of the city, in the 9th arrondissement.
One of the benefits of having our little house in Paris, is that we have a darling little courtyard garden right in front of our learning house. In the past, we have grown all kinds of beautiful, colorful flowers as well as a mini herb garden and even tomatoes and strawberries with the kids!
It is possible to work on so many different skills while gardening with children with special needs.
6 tips to make gardening with children with autism easy & fun :
1. Make your garden colorful.
It’s so much more fun to create a garden if it is full of fun and beautiful colors! Children with autism (and also a variety of other special needs).
2. Plant small plants (rather than seeds).
When a child plants a small plant, he or she sees the result right away. Tada – a garden! When a child plants seeds, he or she must wait and wait and wait… for a result that will come in several weeks. This concept is abstract and hard to explain, even with a beautifully designed visual Schedule or other visual support.
Some children won’t be bothered by waiting, but particularly with younger kids, I recommend planting small plants so that your child will see a beautiful and reinforcing result immediately after participating in the gardening activity!
3. Add small objects to your garden.
Decorating your garden with small objects will make it more beautiful, increase your child’s motivation to participate in creating your garden and upkeep and give you more opportunities to increase your child’s language skills. (“Look a rabbit!” “What is that? A toad!”)
4. When watering the flowers, fill the watering can with the exact amount of water you need at any given time.
This will help your child avoid overwatering plants as young kids have a tendancy to empty out the watering can on the flowers. If you have already planned the amount of available water, you won’t have to worry if your child dumps it all out on the plants! This helps the activity go more smoothly for everyone.
5. Use a visual schedule to help prepare your child for the activity and help your child follow through will all of the steps to completion of the activity.
Select plant → make a hole in the dirt with the shovel → plant the plant in the hole → water!
You should prepare a photo that is representative of each step and place them in the order in which the actual steps will take place. Each time you complete a step with your child, turn over the corresponding photo to show your child that that step is completed and to show the remaining steps.
A visual schedule will make gardening with children with autism more organized and more fun!
6. Keep a gardening journal with your little one.
This is my favorite step because I adore journaling but also because I think that using a journal with your child is such a fabulous family tradition and tool for increasing communication, fun and all kinds of learning!
Learn more about using a journal as a therapeutic tool for your family here.
Two Springs ago, I did a lot of planting with the kids and we took tons of pictures which I’m sharing with you here today!
These are our mini plants waiting to be planted. We chose lots of beautiful colors!
Gardening with children with autism is a wonderful functional activity and a great way to teach following particular steps and to build communication skills.
I hope you enjoy these tips for gardening with children with autism! I would love to hear about your gardening adventures with your little ones! ♥ Please share in the comments below!
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