The Benefits of Gardening

Gardening is a fantastic activity that can benefit children of all ages. Whether it is growing herbs, vegetables or flowers, getting children involved in gardening provides a range of physical, mental, and emotional advantages. In this blog post, we will explore why gardening is such an excellent activity for toddlers, young children, and teenagers and give nannies some ideas for getting started with gardening

Benefits of Gardening for Toddlers

The benefits of Gardening

Gardening can be an enjoyable and rewarding activity for toddlers, providing numerous health and developmental benefits, including:

Sensory Development

Gardening provides children with an opportunity to experience different textures, smells, tastes, and sounds from the natural environment. For example, children can be encouraged to feel the soil in their hands, or taste produce they have grown. Rich, sensory experiences in the early years enhance children’s emotional and cognitive development.

Fine Motor Skills: 

Gardening involves a range of small, delicate movements, which are essential for fine motor skill development. These movements encourage the development of hand-eye coordination and dexterity and all of these things help to build up the skills that children will later need for writing.

Cognitive Development

Gardening offers numerous creative and problem-solving opportunities that help toddlers to develop their cognitive abilities, such as creativity, attention to detail, and problem-solving. For example, children can be encouraged to observe the ways that plants grow, or that the garden changes as the seasons progress and offer ideas about how and why this might happen

Curiosity and Exploration: 

Toddlers are naturally curious and often love to explore. Gardening encourages children to explore and learn about new things while engaging their sense of curiosity and wonder.

Benefits of Gardening for Young Children

Springtime Activities for Young Children. Gardening

Gardening also offers plenty of physical and mental benefits to young children. Here are some of these benefits:

Environmental Awareness: 

Gardening provides an opportunity to teach young children about the environment and the importance of preserving natural resources. It also helps them develop an appreciation for the ecosystem and the role of plants in our lives.

Responsibility and Independence: 

Gardening offers a chance to teach young children responsibility and independence. Plant care, watering, and weeding can all be enjoyable tasks that teach children to take ownership of tasks and develop a sense of responsibility, along with recognising the consequences of not fulfilling responsibilities if plants fail to grow or thrive!

Nutritional Awareness: 

Gardening is a fantastic way to teach young children about the importance of healthy eating habits in a practical and meaningful way. They can learn about the nutritional value of plants and the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can have a lasting impact on their health choices.


Gardening is a great activity for children to do in groups, which can help with socialisation and improve communication skills. Additionally, gardening provides an opportunity for children to experience teamwork and share responsibilities.

Benefits of Gardening for Teenagers

The benefits of Gardening. Teenagers

Teenagers can also benefit from gardening. Here are some of the benefits for teenagers:

Stress Relief: 

Gardening can be an excellent way for teenagers to unwind from their daily routines and reduce stress. The fresh air, sun, and physical activity can be therapeutic and help improve their emotional and physiological well-being.

STEM Education

Gardening is a multi-disciplinary activity and can provide teenagers with a wealth of knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Gardening helps teenagers develop better scientific thinking and critical thinking skills.

Creative Expression: 

Gardening is an excellent way for teenagers to express themselves creatively through landscaping, choosing plant types and pairings, and garden design. With so many different types of gardens, from formal to cottage to tropical, young people can create their vision and express their creativity uniquely.

Work Ethic and Entrepreneurship: 

Gardening and growing plants require a great deal of time, effort, and dedication. Gardening provides opportunities for teenagers to develop excellent work ethics and entrepreneurial skills if they want to develop their gardens and sell their produce to the community.

Getting Started with Gardening

The benefits of Gardening

Starting a garden with children can be a fun and rewarding experience for both children and adults. Here are some tips for getting started:

Choose the Right Plants: 

When choosing plants, consider the child’s age and interests, as well as the type of garden that you want to create. Colourful flowers, herbs, and vegetables with bright colours can be great options for children and teens.

Create a Safe Space: 

Make sure that the garden is in a safe location and away from potential hazards such as poisonous plants or thorny bushes. Make the garden a “safe space” where children can explore, experiment and learn without worry.

Involve Children in Planning: 

Involve children in planning the garden by allowing them to select plants that interest them, help them create a design, and choose the layout for planting. This helps them to foster a sense of ownership and excitement around the upcoming gardening.

Provide Child-Friendly Garden Tools: 

Small garden tools such as kid-sized gardening gloves, shovels, rakes, and watering cans that they can use comfortably and safely can help make gardening more enjoyable for children.

Give Adequate Support: 

Provide adequate support to the children to ensure their success. To ensure they are healthy and strong, teach them basic plant care tools such as watering, pruning, and feeding plants.

Gardening is an activity that many associate with being a chore as an adult, or a hobby once retired, but it is an underappreciated activity in childcare and has several benefits for children of all ages. It provides a wealth of cognitive, social, health, and emotional benefits, making it a fantastic activity for toddlers, young children, and teenagers. 

Nannies should start small with easy-to-grow plants and work slowly so that children can learn and master the skills required for a successful garden. Remember to make the experience enjoyable for children, so they remain engaged and enthusiastic throughout the process. With patience, hard work, and creativity, gardening can be a fun and rewarding experience for children of all ages. Start planting today and help children to reap the benefits of gardening!

International Nanny Institute

You may also be interested in

The Benefits of Music for Young Children

For many people, music plays an important role in their lives, providing comfort, inspiration, and entertainment. Research has shown that music can also have significant benefits for young children, helping to promote cognitive, social, and emotional development. In this article, we will explore the benefits of music for young children and how nannies can incorporate music into their daily routines to foster growth and development. You might wonder, for example, at what age children start to develop an awareness and appreciation of music and when they might benefit from it.

Early Exposure to Music

Research has shown that children begin to develop a sense of musicality from a very young age. Even before they are born, babies can hear and respond to music, and studies have shown that music can help to calm babies and support healthy prenatal development. Early exposure to music can also help to foster a love of music that can continue throughout childhood and into adulthood, and music has many developmental and cognitive benefits too.

Cognitive Benefits of Music

Music can have a significant impact on cognitive development, including language development, spatial awareness, and mathematical reasoning. Here are some of the cognitive benefits of music for young children:

Language Development

Listening to music can help young children to develop language skills, such as vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Singing songs or playing rhyming games can also help children to learn language more effectively, as they can associate the sounds of words with the patterns in music.

Spatial Awareness

Music can help children to develop spatial awareness and cognitive skills, such as sequencing and pattern recognition. Learning to play an instrument or participate in music and movement activities can also improve spatial reasoning skills, which are essential for maths and science.

Mathematical Reasoning

Studies have shown that music can help to improve mathematical abilities, such as counting, sequencing, and pattern recognition. Learning to read music can also help to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts, such as fractions and ratios.

It is not just academic or cognitive development that music influences either, being exposed to music can benefit children much more holistically, having significant impacts on their social and emotional development.

Social and Emotional Benefits of Music

Music can also have significant social and emotional benefits for young children. Here are some of the ways that music can promote social and emotional development:

Emotional Regulation

Music can help children to regulate their emotions and express themselves in a healthy and constructive way. Listening to calming music or playing a musical instrument can also help to reduce stress and anxiety in young children.

Social Skills

Playing music with others, such as in a group or band, can help to develop social skills, such as cooperation, communication, and teamwork. Music can also help to improve listening skills, which are essential for effective communication.


Learning to play an instrument or singing in a group can help to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence. Feeling a sense of accomplishment from mastering new skills can promote a positive self-image and a sense of agency and control.

With all these great benefits, music is definitely something that should be integrated into children’s daily routines and life experiences. 

Incorporating Music Into Daily Routines

Nannies can incorporate music into their daily routines to promote growth and development in young children. Here are some ideas for incorporating music into your daily routine:

Singing Songs

Singing songs is an easy and effective way to incorporate music into your daily routine. You can sing songs during mealtime, bath time, or playtime, to make these activities more enjoyable and engaging for young children.

Music and Movement

Music and movement activities, such as dancing or playing instruments, can be a fun way to promote physical activity and gross motor skills while also developing musical abilities. Encouraging children to dance or play along with the music can help to improve coordination and balance.

Music-Based Games

Playing music-based games, such as musical chairs or freeze dance, can help children to develop social and emotional skills while also improving musical abilities. These games can also be a fun and engaging way to spend time with young children.

Final Thoughts

Music has many benefits for young children, promoting cognitive, social, and emotional development. Incorporating music into your daily routine as a nanny can help to foster a love of music in young children, while also promoting healthy growth and development. Whether it’s singing songs, playing instruments, or engaging in music and movement activities, the benefits of music are clear, and it’s never too early to start exposing young children to the joy and beauty of music.

If you’d like to find out more about this topic, our course on Early Years Childcare explores the pattern of children’s development and how to integrate developmentally appropriate activities, whilst our course Integrating Education into Childcare explores creativity and gives nannies practical ideas for activities that they could provide for young children to support this kind of development.

International Nanny Institute

You may also be interested in

How nannies can encourage children’s independence

Maria Montessori encouraged adults to “never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed” as she had observed that often adults stifle children’s emerging independence by jumping in to ‘save the day’.

Unfortunately, not only does this rob children of the chance to try and to persevere, but it also gives children the message that they can’t do things and they need adults to help them with everything.

Whether the family you are working with has explicitly stated that they want you to use a Montessori-style approach with the children, or you just see value in promoting independence, there is plenty that you can do as a nanny that can help children to develop these self-help skills.

So, if you would like to encourage children’s independence at home, here are some good starting points;

Acknowledge children’s attempts at independence

encourage children's independence

Often we are in a hurry to get out of the door, and see the child having a tantrum about wanting to put on their own shoes as being “difficult” but if we step back and consider what is going on a little more carefully we will realise that the child is expressing a sense of frustration that we are preventing their attempt at independence.

Taking a step back, and acknowledging that this is what is going on is a great place to start thinking about how you can set up the home, and your routines with the children to allow for this growing sense of independence.

It is also worth noting here that most tantrums are a toddler or child’s manner of expressing frustration at boundaries, and lack of independence. This does not necessarily mean you should remove or reduce your boundaries; just that you should consider how you are acknowledging children’s feelings for what they are.

Creating a ‘yes’ space

Often we limit what children are allowed to do based on safety concerns, or worries about the mess and tidying up.

For example, you may tell a 3-year-old that no, they can’t play with their dolls in the lounge as it will make a mess, and no they can’t throw the frisbee inside the house as they may break something, and no they can’t jump around the house like a power ranger or a fairy or a superhero because they may hurt themselves.

Before you know it you’ve spent the morning telling them ‘no’, and if anything will frustrate a growing sense of independence it’s the word ‘no’.

As a nanny this can be a difficult line to tread when working with parents, as ultimately the house belongs to them, however, it is certainly something that could be discussed tactfully if you feel that too many rules are starting to affect a child’s growing sense of independence.

To combat this it may be a good idea to negotiate being able to set up a ‘yes’ space in the home; this might be a playroom, the child’s bedroom, or a play area.

The idea is to set the space up to be safe enough that you, as the caregiver, do not need to constantly say no. Montessori classrooms are largely yes spaces; somewhere that you can trust children to play independently and stay safe.

Encourage children’s independence with words 

encourage children's independence

What we say and how we say it can make a huge difference to children.

As we already discussed most children want to be independent and become frustrated when they are not allowed to be.

When we verbally permit, encourage and celebrate children’s attempts at being independent we validate them, and when children feel validated in their attempts at independence, they are more likely to persevere with what they’re trying and eventually succeed. 

As a nanny, you can try saying things like “You have a go” or “keep trying” to children.

You can praise the effort by saying “You’re working so hard at that” or “great trying” and acknowledge success with “well done, I knew you could do it!”

Use mealtimes as an opportunity

Meal times with little ones are a common source of stress, but they can be a great opportunity to build independence and self-help skills.

Even young babies (so long as they are over 6 months) can feed themselves at the table and using a baby-led weaning approach is a great way to promote that early independence, as a nanny this is something that can be discussed with parents.

encourage children's independence

For older children, encouraging children to serve or even help prepare their food, and pour water from a jug enhances their balance, dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

This also helps to divide responsibility at mealtimes which are perfect for promoting independence.

As a bonus, children tend to eat a wider variety of food when they select it themselves.

Avoid wardrobe battles

encourage children's independence

Children are often keen to select their own clothing and dress themselves, although their fashion choices can be questionable at times, allowing them to make attempts at dressing will pay off in the long run.

If a child’s choices are likely to be unsuitable for the day’s activities or the weather you could decide on an outfit together perhaps the night before and lay it out for them to put on themselves in the morning.

Younger toddlers and babies can be encouraged to lift their arms to put on a shirt or raise their feet to put on shoes and socks.

Use your best judgment as to when a child may be able to attempt dressing alone and remember, that wearing a tutu over a raincoat is not the end of the world.

Make sure children contribute

Involving children in running the household from a young age is great for promoting independence and also demonstrates their role in the family and enhances their sense of belonging.

It builds an understanding of working as a collective and is something that is highly emphasised in educational approaches like Montessori.

encourage children's independence

This is not to say that children need to be doing housework all day long, but small contributions add up and will help promote children’s independence too;

Little babies can be encouraged to help put their toys away in a box when they have finished playing, or wipe the highchair tray when they are done eating.

Toddlers generally love to help around the home and can use a small dustpan and brush or a handheld vacuum to clear up.

Matching socks and sorting laundry are also valuable learning opportunities for preschoolers and will help children to feel involved in the running of the home.

Encourage risk-taking

As nannies, it’s our job to keep children safe, but sometimes we can become overly worried about this responsibility and as a result, we can become very overprotective of our charges and actually hold their development back by doing so.

Healthy risk-taking is vital for children’s emerging sense of self because where there is a risk of failure, success is more valuable.

Allowing children to climb, run and jump and explore their limits is essential for the growth and development of independence, so we can consider ways to allow for healthy risk-taking that promotes children’s physical skills and sense of independence.

International Nanny Institute

We hope that some of these ideas will help you consider how to approach encouraging children’s independence.

To find out more about the natural pattern of Children’s development and how and when to support their growing independence sign up for our Child Development course.

Not only will this boost your confidence in working with children in an age-appropriate manner, but it will reassure families that you have the expertise in childhood and early years.

You may also be interested in

Why should I enrol in a certified Child Development course?

In any career, continuous professional development is vital. Completing ongoing training helps you grow as a professional by gaining new knowledge, reflecting on your experience and mastering new skills to take back into the workplace.

Professional development also demonstrates your passion and commitment to your sector and shows you are dedicated to your chosen career. When working with young children in private, domestic households, earning an OCN-London approved qualification via our course, Child Development, caregivers can ensure they are ready for a professional childcare placement.

Child Development course

Get practical tips and advice

With a plethora of different courses related to caring for children available, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose.

The International Nanny Institute Child Development course has been put together by a team of experts who are respected professionals in their fields.

In this course, they include practical advice as well as academic information so nannies can benefit from tips and advice that apply directly to their everyday work.

Child Development course

Update your knowledge

Our Child Development course is designed to introduce you to the typical developmental patterns and milestones of different age groups and teach you how to best support children’s development in a range of areas.

The course covers the growth and development of newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children.

The course is a great way for you to ensure that your knowledge and expectations are up to date, and to give you ideas of how you can best support children.

Plan age and stage appropriate activities

Supporting children’s development whilst working as a nanny requires slightly different skills to supporting children in other settings.

This course is tailored to those working in a nanny role and will teach you about how children learn and develop throughout their early years and beyond.

It also covers important developmental milestones and patterns so that you can plan appropriate activities to support children’s development according to their age and stage.

Child Development course

Increase your confidence

An important part of a nanny’s role is to support children’s development, and as a professional child care provider, nannies should ensure this knowledge is always up-to-date.

If there are aspects of development you are unsure about, or it’s been a while since you trained, Child Development can help you to feel more secure in your knowledge, which in turn, will make you feel much more confident and secure when caring for children. 

Enhance your employability

Completing our OCN-London approved Child Development course  is a great way to show potential employers that you understand what motivates children and know how to support their development appropriately.

It also shows that you take your responsibilities as a nanny seriously, and that you are committed to continually upskilling and developing your professional knowledge. Our OCN-London bespoke course, Child Development, will demonstrate to potential families that you understand child development and ultimately will help you stand out from other nanny candidates seeking similar roles. 

international nanny institute

If you feel that our certified Child Development course is what is right for you, you should know that it consists of 4 in-depth training sessions, complete with reflection questions and quizzes to check your understanding.

The course is 100% online and will take about  60 hours to complete, over 8 weeks, giving you a window of time to complete the course and leaving you in control of how and when you study. If you like what you’ve read about our Childhood Development  course and think it might be a good fit for your professional development, visit our website at!

We can’t wait to have you on board!

You may also be interested in

Vestibular play

Ever seen a child hanging their body over the edge of the armchair, watching TV upside down? How about spinning around and around a pole at the park? Or maybe you just find them from time to time in a downward-facing dog-type pose?

Perhaps you shrug and exclaim “kids are weird!” but actually, there’s a lot more to these seemingly random activities; Spinning, rocking, playing with positioning, balancing and being upside down are all ways of activating the vestibular system, a key component of healthy child development. In this article, we will explore what the vestibular system is, why it’s important and some ideas for encouraging children to activate this system in their play.

What is the vestibular system?

The vestibular system is controlled by two pieces of bone in the inner ear and is a sensory system, independent to but interconnected with the 5 senses we usually think of (taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell) Its role is to perceive and monitor the position and movement of the head, enabling humans to process environmental sounds accurately, knowing where a noise is coming from, and use their eyes effectively to look around without always needing to move the head.

The vestibular system is believed to be one of the first to develop when a baby is in the womb and is in place by 8 weeks post-conception and well-developed by the time the mother is just 5 months pregnant.

Vestibular play

What does the vestibular system do?

The vestibular system has several different functions. Some of them are very practical like being able to perceive where noises are coming from and look around, the vestibular system has a big impact on physical development too as it is a key component in developing and refining balance.

The vestibular system also acts as a kind of “Gatekeeper” for all the sensory information that the brain is bombarded with on a minute-by-minute basis. The vestibular system’s role is to process and categorise the incoming sensory information and pass this information onto the correct regions of the brain.

Vestibular play

Why is the vestibular system important?

The vestibular system lays the foundations for a whole host of different kinds of learning. When the vestibular system develops normally it is a mechanism that helps children to feel ‘at home’ in their bodies so they can rest and play easily.

The vestibular system helps children to develop a good sense of balance, vital for rolling, crawling, walking, running, navigating space and pretty much any physical activity you can think of. The vestibular system supports visual tracking abilities, making fine motor skills and learning to write much easier. When the vestibular system does not work well children may be clumsy, struggle to master physical skills, they may find sports difficult or find reading and writing much more tricky than their peers.

The vestibular system is also a critical component of mastering self-regulation, the ability to control our behaviour and calm our emotions. When the vestibular system is not working as we would expect it to be, children can become quickly overwhelmed with the sensory information their brain is being fed as the “gatekeeper” isn’t doing its job correctly. This can lead to a range of different behaviours and underdeveloped vestibular systems have even been linked to conditions like ADHD.

Vestibular play

How can caregivers support this kind of development?

Supporting normal vestibular development isn’t especially complicated, but it is vital that it is something caregivers consider when observing children’s activities. The vestibular system develops best through normal play behaviours like climbing, balancing, running and risk-taking so it is really important that we allow these kinds of activities.

In young babies, engaging the vestibular system through rocking or babywearing can be incredibly soothing and help the developing brain to make sense of the world.

In toddlers and young children jumping or bouncing games can be encouraged, or the safe use of a trampoline is good too. Up and down movement helps the vestibular system to regulate sensory input, and involves the proprioceptive sense too, which is another sensory system. Gym balls and wobble boards are further ways to gain this sensory input.

Young children love to spin and introducing props like dance ribbons or scarves can help encourage them to do this too. Using swings or hammocks can be a great way to help children use their vestibular senses and have benefits for up to 8 hours afterwards! Many children who struggle with sensory overwhelm will find swings very soothing, bringing them back to a place of calm.

Yoga can be a fantastic way to engage the vestibular system too with plenty of poses requiring children to be upside down or balancing.

Really though, specialist activities and equipment are rarely needed. What children really need from caregivers is an understanding of normal development and permission to engage their vestibular system. So next time you find a child hanging over the edge of the armchair, if it is safe to do so, perhaps leave them to it.

You may also be interested in