Alicia DeVore

Edit in Surfer

My household is bustling with the energy of my three teenagers. Their presence ensures there’s never a dull moment. If you’re in a similar situation, or if you have younger children who will eventually enter their teenage years, and you’re keen on equipping them with essential life skills early on, then this blog post is tailor-made for you in important life skills for teens.

In this blog post, we will explore 10 basic life skills, that your teenager can acquire from the experience of gardening. We will guide you on how this activity can build valuable qualities in your teen, preparing them for a bright future through essential life skills.

10 life skills teens learn from gardening

Introduction to Essential Life Skills

Gardening is not just about growing plants; it’s a platform for growth in many aspects of life, particularly for teenagers who are in a crucial phase of their personal development. The act of nurturing a seed into a blooming plant can teach teens responsibility, patience, and the value of hard work. Moreover, it can instill a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem when they see the fruits (or flowers or vegetables) of their hard work.

From everyday skills to learning about the importance of time management and planning to understanding the nuances of nature and science, gardening can be an effective tool to prepare your teens for adulthood. Not to mention, it promotes physical activity and mindfulness, contributing to their overall well-being with essential life skills. These life skills are important to learn as a family as seen in these blog posts for gardening with kids and the benefits of gardening with family. So let’s take a closer look at what teens can learn from gardening that will help them the rest of their lives.

quote about life skillls for teens

Life Skill 1: Responsibility as a Life Skill for Teenager

A. Understanding the Commitment of Maintaining a Garden

When a teen begins on a journey of growing a garden, they quickly learn that it’s not a one-time event but a continuous process. The plants they cultivate require regular watering, pruning, and care, mirroring the persistent commitment that adult life so often demands. This experience helps them understand the importance of consistency and the dedication it takes to maintain something they’ve initiated, thereby developing a sense of responsibility.

B. How Gardening Teaches Accountability

Gardening also teaches accountability, another critical aspect of responsibility. If a plant fails to grow or dies, the reason often lies in the care it receives. Teens learn to take responsibility for their actions, understanding that neglecting their duties can lead to adverse outcomes. This accountability in gardening is a practical lesson that extends beyond the garden, helping them to realize the impact of their actions in larger aspects of life, and strengthening their overall sense of responsibility.

someone with gloves holding a seedling

Life Skill 2: Planning and Organization

A. Planning a Garden Layout

Gardening requires strategic planning and thought, especially when it comes to designing a garden layout. Teenagers engaged in this activity learn to consider various factors such as the type of plants they want to grow, the space each plant needs, the amount of sunlight available, and the appropriate positioning of plants based on their growth patterns and needs.

This planning process demands foresight, imagination, and logical thinking, all of which are valuable planning and decision-making skills that can be applied to many future endeavors, including careers and personal life.

B. Organizing Tasks and Schedules for Plant Care

Once the garden layout is planned, maintaining it requires careful organization of tasks. It involves setting up schedules for watering, fertilizing, pruning, and other plant care tasks. Teens need to learn about each plant’s unique needs and ensure that they are met promptly.

This task requires efficient time management and organizational skills as they prioritize and balance gardening tasks alongside their other responsibilities such as schoolwork, hobbies, and social engagements. Mastering this skill in the garden can significantly improve mental health and contribute to their ability to manage their time and tasks effectively in other areas of life, be it in their studies, work, or domestic chores. Use these recommended gardening books to start learning more with your teen.

When I teach gardening to teens in the Simple Gardening Method or In-Person classes, I’m amazed at the creativity that comes into play as they design and plan out their gardens.

teen girl watering insdie plants

Life Skill 3: Patience

A. The Time It Takes for Plants to Grow and Fruit

Gardening isn’t a hobby for the impatient. One of the greatest lessons it imparts is that of patience. It takes time for the seed to sprout, for the sprouts to grow into plants, and finally, for the plant to bear fruit. This process cannot be rushed. Teens learn firsthand that patience is often rewarded as they watch the transformation of a tiny seed into a beautiful plant. This lesson is a metaphor for many things in life that require patience, whether it’s working towards a long-term goal, investing in personal growth, or building meaningful relationships.

B. Learning to Wait and Observe

Beyond waiting for plants to grow, gardening also teaches the value of observation. It encourages teenagers to slow down, take a step back, and attentively observe the subtle changes that occur in their garden over time. Noticing the first sprouts, spotting a new bud, or discovering the first fruit are all exciting milestones that can only be appreciated with patience and keen observation. This ability to wait and observe translates well into real-life situations, fostering mindfulness, enhancing their ability to concentrate, and developing a more patient, observant approach to tasks and challenges.

teen boy carrying plants

Life Skill 4: Hard Work and Perseverance

A. The Physical Effort Required in Gardening

Gardening is a physically demanding activity, requiring constant effort in tasks such as digging, planting, weeding, watering, and pruning. These gardening activities not only improve physical fitness but also instill a paradigm of hard work in teenagers.

The hard task of transforming a patch of dirt into a vibrant garden helps them realize that nothing worthwhile comes easy. The sweat and toil invested in the garden is directly proportional to its growth and blossoming, a direct metaphor for the concept that hard work leads to success.

B. Overcoming Challenges and Setbacks in the Garden

The journey from seed to plant is not always smooth. Gardening poses numerous challenges such as pest attacks, plant diseases, weather adversities, and sometimes, plants simply failing to thrive. These setbacks are opportunities for teenagers to learn about perseverance. They learn to research, seek solutions, and persistently work towards overcoming the hurdles.

This resilience in school gardens in the face of problems equips them with the grit and determination they’ll need to tackle future obstacles in their personal and professional lives. Gardening becomes a practical life arena where teenagers learn to combine hard work with perseverance in the face of challenges, crucial life skills, and skills that are indispensable for their journey toward adulthood.

teen boy with hat smiling at tomato plants

Life Skill 5: Understanding Nature and Ecosystems

A. Learning about Different Plants and Their Needs

Developing a garden offers teenagers a unique opportunity to delve into the intricacies of different plant species and their specific needs. Each plant in a garden has its requirements for sunlight, water, soil type, and nutrients. Understanding these requirements and providing appropriate care helps teens appreciate the diversity of nature. In this blog post, learn more about how permaculture in gardening can benefit your space and help you grow more.

They learn that just like people, plants too have their unique needs and characters. This knowledge not only boosts their gardening skills but also deepens their understanding of biological systems and ecology, skills that are valuable in academic learning as well as in their community gardens and fostering an appreciation for the environment.

B. Understanding the Role of Weather, Insects, and Other Animals in the Garden

Gardening also provides teens with a tangible understanding of 10 importance of gardening to the broader ecosystem, beyond the plant life. They begin to see the interconnectedness of all elements in nature. Weather plays a crucial role in determining the success of a garden – too much sun or rain can be as detrimental as too little.

Insects, birds, and other animals, often perceived as pests, are recognized for their crucial roles in pollination, pest control, and soil enrichment. Understanding these interdependencies helps teenagers appreciate the delicate balance of nature and the importance of each organism in maintaining ecosystem health. This experience can build a sense of respect and care for the environment, aiding in the development of responsible, ecologically-aware citizens.

teen boy and dad adding soil to planters

Life Skill 6: Nutrition and Healthy Eating

A. The Benefits of Eating Home-Grown Produce

Growing food gives teenagers an appreciation for the true taste brain health, and value of fresh, organic food. Home-grown fruits and vegetables are often richer in nutrients than their store-bought counterparts, offering better taste and health benefits.

Growing their own food also can give teens a wonderful sense of pride and achievement. It also helps them appreciate the hard work farmers put into agriculture. Knowing the effort it takes to grow food can inspire teens to reduce waste, as they’ll be more inclined to eat or share their home-grown produce instead of wasting it.

B. Encouraging Healthier Food Choices Through Gardening

Gardening can significantly influence dietary habits and choices. Teenagers are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables that they have cultivated themselves. This involvement in the food production process can boost their willingness to try new, healthy foods, leading to a more balanced and nutritious diet.

The act of gardening itself is a form of physical activity and healthy lifestyle that promotes overall and mental health too. Combined with the nutritional benefits of consuming fresh produce, it’s clear that gardening can be a powerful tool in promoting healthier lifestyle choices among teenagers.

create my garden SGM with kids with zoom course title

Life Skill 7: Problem-Solving Skills

A. Dealing with Pests, Diseases, or Poor Plant Growth

Gardening exposes teenagers to various problems such as pests, plant diseases, or poor plant growth. These challenges demand creative problem-solving skills. For instance, teenagers need to learn to identify different pests or diseases, understand their impact, and then apply appropriate remedies. If a plant isn’t growing well, they have to figure out what’s missing – does it need more sunlight, different nutrients, or perhaps better soil?

The garden becomes a laboratory for problem-solving, where teens and young adults can learn to diagnose issues, hypothesize solutions, test their theories, and observe the results. Other problem-solving skills for teens can be found in this article.

B. Finding Solutions and Trying New Gardening Methods

Solving problems in the garden often involves experimentation and the willingness to try new methods. Teenagers might need to adjust watering schedules, try natural pest deterrents, or experiment with different types of plant food. Practicing and learning how to have a budget can always be learned and improved as seen in this article.

They might even need to research and adapt innovative gardening methods like vertical gardening or companion planting. This process of trial and error not only leads to better gardening results but also reinforces the value of adaptability, persistence, innovation, and lifelong learning. These problem-solving and leadership skills, honed in the garden, can be applied in all areas of life, empowering teenagers with the confidence to face and overcome challenges.

quote from a mom with a teen

Life Skill 8: Financial Management

A. Understanding the Cost of Gardening Supplies Versus Buying Own Food

Gardening introduces teenagers to a crucial aspect of financial management – the cost-benefit analysis. They learn to compare the cost of gardening supplies, such as seeds, soil, and tools, with the price of store-bought produce.

This comparison allows them to see the economies of growing food over time, even with the initial investment in gardening supplies, even in a small container . Understanding this balance teaches practical budgeting life skills education and helps them appreciate the value of self-sufficiency.

B. Learning About the Value of Hard Work, Physical Health, & Resources

Through gardening, teenagers gain firsthand experience of the labor and resources involved in producing healthy food again. They come to understand the value of their time, effort, and the natural resources used in the garden, such as water and soil.

This understanding can build a greater appreciation for the hard work farmers put in to get produce to the market, and the environmental cost of food production. These experiences impart valuable lessons about resource management and the worth of hard work, skills that are essential in personal finance and money management. Just like this article shares about lots of life skills that are needed for teens to learn, gardening can be a natural way to make these skills develop.

teen girl with flower and small shovel gardening

Life Skill 9: Creativity

A. Designing a Visually Pleasing Garden Layout

Gardening offers teenagers an excellent opportunity to unleash their creativity. When designing a garden layout beautiful outdoor space, they can play with colors, shapes, and structures to create a visually pleasing and functional space. In this article, the use of vertical planting with supports and trellises will give your teen more ideas for their garden.

They can experiment with different plant arrangements, focusing on attributes like height, color, and blooming season to ensure a vibrant display throughout the year. The design process involves research, planning, and a dash of imagination, encouraging teenagers to visualize and bring their ideas to life.

Community Gardens

To see a garden in action and take the lead from others who have been gardening longer than you, find a communmity garden to participate in with your teen and family. Watch and learn about the seasons, what to grow in your area, and how to take care of the garden on a weekly basis. The benefits of gardening creates a space to learn whether you have a small container garden or a large space to plant. This regular gardening helps to create a beautiful garden for you and your family to enjoy.

Then have your kids come home and continue planning out their own garden. As they plant, then they will watch their design unfold, they not only gain a sense of satisfaction but also develop spatial awareness and aesthetic sensitivity, both of which are key aspects of creativity.

B. Experimenting with Different Plant Combinations

Creativity in gardening also comes into play when experimenting with different plant combinations. Teenagers can learn about companion planting, a method that pairs plants benefitting each other in terms of growth, pest control, or nutrient enrichment.

This practice allows them to understand the complex relationships among different plant species and encourages them to think creatively about how to best utilize these relationships in their garden. It builds innovative thinking as they figure out which plant combinations yield the best results in vegetable gardens. Such experimentation not only enhances their problem-solving and communication skills but also nurtures their capacity for creative thinking and innovation.

dad and teen girl planting a tree with watering can

Life Skill 10: Stress Management

A. The Therapeutic Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

Gardening offers a myriad of physical health therapeutic benefits, making it an effective stress management tool for teenagers. The act of nurturing plants, watching them grow, and seeing the tangible results of their effort can bring a sense of achievement, boosting self-esteem and reducing feelings of anxiety.

Gardening encourages teenagers to spend time in nature, which has been proven to have calming effects, lowering blood pressure and the levels of stress hormones, and promoting relaxation and mood enhancement. Hence, gardening can serve as a natural stress reliever, providing teenagers with a healthy outlet to unwind and disconnect from their daily stressors.

B. Using Gardening as a Mindfulness Practice

In addition to its physiological benefits, gardening can also be utilized as a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment, acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Gardening lends itself to mindfulness as it requires a focus on tactile and sensory experiences – the feel of the soil, the smell of the plants, and the sound of the leaves rustling. Paying attention to these experiences helps ground teenagers in the present, diverting their attention away from future anxieties or past regrets. By encouraging a state of mindful presence, gardening can help teenagers cultivate a sense of inner peace, equanimity, and stress resilience.

10 life skills for teens to learn while gardening

Conclusion to Important Life Skills

Gardening is a multifaceted activity that offers teenagers valuable life skills, including problem-solving, financial management, creativity, and stress management. By cultivating a garden, teenagers also learn patience, responsibility, adaptability, resourcefulness, teamwork, and mindfulness. These skills are crucial for their personal growth and development and can be applied in various aspects of their lives.

With the so many benefits, that gardening offers, it is an activity worth considering for both parents and teenagers. Whether you have a backyard or just a few pots on a balcony, there are plenty of opportunities to start a garden together.

Gardening can be a fun and rewarding experience that builds connections to nature and others through communication, basic educational skills education, and personal growth. So why not give it a try and see what life skills you and your teenager can cultivate through gardening? Get your hands dirty, and enjoy the journey of learning and growing together.

Teaching Life Skills

Introducing the Simple Gardening Method for Teens

The Simple Gardening Method is an approach designed to make gardening accessible and enjoyable for all. Not only is it suitable for families, but it has now been tailored specifically for teenagers. This method guides you through a 12-week journey, taking you from absolute novice to confident gardener.

Week 1-4: Planning and Preparation

During the first four weeks, teenagers are encouraged to conduct research and plan their gardens. This phase includes choosing the type of plants they want to grow, learning about their specific care requirements, and preparing a suitable garden layout. It’s an opportunity to engage their creativity and problem-solving skills as they decide where best to place each plant for optimal growth.

Week 5-8: Planting and Initial Care

The next phase involves getting their hands dirty. Teenagers will plant their chosen seeds or seedlings, carefully following the instructions gathered during the research phase. They’ll learn about watering, weeding, and the importance of sunlight during these weeks. Observing their plants sprout and begin to grow imparts a sense of responsibility and achievement.

Week 9-12: Maintenance and Harvesting

The final weeks focus on maintaining the garden and caring for the growing plants. Teenagers learn about pest control, nutrient management, and how to spot signs of plant stress. As they watch their plants bloom and produce, they gain a greater appreciation for the value of their hard work. As the 12-week journey concludes, not only do they have a thriving garden to show for it, but they also experience the joy of harvesting their own produce.

The Simple Gardening Method for Teens is a structured yet flexible way to introduce teenagers to the world of gardening. It offers a step-by-step guide to building a garden from scratch, fostering essential life skills, and demonstrating the rewards of hard work and patience.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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