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Spring has sprung and it is time to get outside and into the garden! As you decide on your spring planting, don't forget to include your children in the fun. Gardening with children can be very beneficial to your child, yourself and your garden. Even very young children can be helpful and learn from gardening.

Parents of small children know that toddlers love digging in dirt. Why not put that love to good use? Allow your child to help dig the soil and plant the seeds, then water the area. It will be necessary to explain to the child that it will take time, but the seed will open up under the ground and start to grow. Soon, a small plant will sprout. The amazement and joy your child will get from this first small sprout will be enough reward, but the benefits go far deeper. Your child is learning patience, responsibility, a sense of wonder and a love for nature. Plants such as green beans and sunflowers work best for very young children because they sprout quickly and grow fast, although any plant will do. You may either sow the seeds directly in the garden, or in a small container kept inside in the windowsill.

You can even plant beans around large wooden poles you stand up in a tee-pee shape. When the plants start to grow, gently direct them sound the poles. When they are full grown your child will have a bean house to play in! If you plan on doing this, make sure the beans you plant are pole, not bush beans, or they will not climb.

Older children will also benefit from gardening. You can give a child a few of his/her own plants to care for or give him/her their own plot in the garden. It won't take long to learn the amount of assistance your child will need. Your child's abilities will grow with experience. Just start with the basics and you'll be amazed by what they can accomplish. Planting and caring for the seedling will teach responsibility in such a fun way that the child won't even realize he is learning!

To add to the fun, you can make garden stakes so you know what you planted where. Start with a wooden paint stick. You can either paint and decorate the stick or attach the seed packet to the stick. To do this, open the packet from the bottom, and place over the top of the stick, then staple in place. To protect the stake from the rain, you may want to cover the packet with clear contact paper once it is attached to the stake.

While in the garden with your child, keep the focus on fun, not work. Also, develop your own sense of wonder and discovery. This will add to your child's excitment. Don't forget the best part: picking and eating your crops. The sense of accomplishment you child will have after he/she brings in the first harvest will lead to a lifetime of self-confidence.