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How gardening can develop your child’s sensory inputs

Children gain the most knowledge from participating in hands-on activities, and sensory gardens provide them with this opportunity.

Creating a sensory garden allows your child to experiment with different textures, such as soil, rocks, water, mud, seeds, new sprouts, leaves, roots, and even weeds. It also teaches children perseverance and patience. A plant does not grow in an instant. It requires time, attention, water, sunlight, and some TLC. 

What is a sensory garden?

A sensory garden is a carefully planned space that uses plants and décor to evoke and indulge all five senses, resulting in an immersive experience. 

A sensory garden is ideal for all children but even more so for those with autism spectrum disorder, learning challenges, and behaviour difficulties. 

It provides them with a safe environment to explore every stimulus and improve their sensory development. Under-reactive children can also benefit from sensory gardens by experiencing all five senses in a healthy and positive way.

What a sensory garden can teach children

Making a sensory garden with your child improves their sensory integration and provides them with numerous learning opportunities. A sensory garden can help your child learn and develop academically in a variety of ways, including:

  • Improving math skills as your child decides how far apart to space the plants and counts out the seedlings.
  • Reducing anxiety, fidgeting, and focus
  • Improving your child’s gross and fine motor skills.
  • Encourage experimentation.

10 Things to consider when designing a sensory garden

Before starting a sensory garden, there are 10 things to consider:

  1. First, check the sun’s position throughout the day, as plants require adequate sunlight to grow. 
  2. Choose plants and flowers that your child can safely interact with.
  3. Grow native plants because they are already adapted to their surroundings, require less maintenance, and are less susceptible to disease.
  4. Visual interest can be added to a sensory garden by incorporating plants with different bark, stem, leaf, and bloom colours. Plants with different habits, such as those that climb, stand upright, form a bush, creep, or trail.
  5. Sensory gardens allow children to explore natural textures through touch. This can be accomplished with various plants, ranging from sensational cool moss to large sunflowers. 
  6. Sandpits, free-standing tactile panels, and water play tables can also give children the opportunity to identify different textures with their hands.
  7. Plant fruits and vegetables in your garden to teach children about food’s origins.
  8. Use fragrant and scented shrubs and flowers, such as jasmine, mint and lavender, to create distinct scents.
  9. Use plants that make noise when the wind blows through them, such as bamboo stems. 
  10. Plants and flowers that attract wildlife, such as hummingbirds, bees, and crickets, should be included. 

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