Gardening as a therapy tool

by FS&TS

By Kristin Connell, OTR/L

Ever think about starting a garden, or already have one started?  There are many benefits to having a garden for yourself, but gardening with kids can help develop fine motor skills and sensory processing.   These are some of the benefits:

  • Fine motor strength and coordination: planting small seeds, pulling weeds, raking and digging dirt, squeezing water nozzle or spray bottle when watering, carrying/pouring watering can, writing the name of the plants on markers to remember what you are growing
  • Sensory: touching/exploring dirt (and whatever else is in the dirt), plants, water,  and seeds, smelling flowers/plants, experiencing sounds of nature
  • Feeding/Trying new foods: Growing edible plants in your garden can also help children with feeding difficulties as well. They can help plant the seed or seedling, water and fertilize it until it produces fruit/vegetables.  A child may be more likely to want to try a food that they have helped take care of and watched grow. 
  • Other benefits: Children can also learn patience, problem solving, responsibility, sense of accomplishment. Most importantly, it's fun!  Gardening can be a beneficial skill kids will carry with them into adulthood.