Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

Archive for the Family Activities Category

Published on: April 26, 2014  

Having Fun With Gardening

Spring has arrived! The days are longer, the sunshine peeks through the clouds more often, tulips and daffodils are in bloom, and the soil is warming up just a little bit. More daylight and warmth means that it is a great time for you and your child or teen to begin preparing your garden for spring planting! Kids and teens take to gardens in different ways depending on their ages, temperaments and, yes, even gender. Of course, children develop at different rates. Girl with Carrots Here are some ideas on what you and your child/teen can do with gardeing from preschoolers through the teen years: Preschoolers, AGES 3-4:  As long as we don’t expect to accomplish something in the adult sense of the phrase, gardening is great fun. We move mulch. We catch toads. We pull a few weeds. We blow the fuzz off dandelions. If a child wants to plant last night’s dessert–watermelon seeds, we do just that. This age of unbridled exploration must be accompanied exploration. Preschoolers are never safe unattended. And while you’re together, you have a chance to explain the life cycle of a seed or the history of evolution in an ancient fern. Let kids take the lead while you supply the background information. It’s in the storytelling that kids learn about gardening and the world. Don’t know all the answers? No one does. Library trips are part of the journey.

KINDERGARTNERS, AGE 5:  Gardens, great places to act out dramas, will serve children for a half dozen years or more. Create forts, tree houses, secret hide-a-ways, and kids’ own gardens where children can interact and learn. Continue to let kids take the lead. If your child sees a hollow stump as a potential troll house, drop your pruning shears and join him in inspecting it. Help him gather the supplies he needs to make the project happen. Assist only where needed–say in lashing sticks together to make a ladder, or by offering leftover nasturtium seeds or marigold seedlings to embellish his ideas.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLERS, AGES 6-7:  Your youngster’s improving reading and math skills add new depth to gardening fun. Now kids can make plant markers, read seed packets, pore over catalogs, and pay for nursery plants. And yet they’re still wide-eyed and open to nature’s mysteries. Soil, holes, and water hold endless fascination, as do bugs. But for children this age, the “doing” is still more important than the end result. For them, a garden is a willy nilly collection of plants of all shapes, sizes, and colors. A bouquet is whatever fits in the diameter of a palm and curled fingers and whose stems reach into a jar full of water.

MIDDLE SCHOOLERS, AGES 8-9:  The emphasis shifts from doing to doing well. Your children can design a garden on graph paper, thinking about flower heights and colors or how much space a tomato plant will need. They can translate that drawing to a real garden. Their ability to use tools increases; they can build arbors and fences. It’s never too early, but now is an especially wonderful time to enter your vegetables and bouquets in contests at the local fair or town events or to join a group such as a community garden, CSA, or 4-H. These activities combine gardening with friendships.

MIDDLE SCHOOLERS, AGES 10-11:  Garden is science, math, art, and still fun. Your youngsters can organize a class project to create a small garden at the local nursing home–and gain the support of businesses and parent volunteers. They can build garden structures and community. The opportunities for fun in the garden are endless. With a little imagination, this year’s scarecrows can look like the Spice Girls, or Arthur, or the scariest dementor Harry Potter ever met.

IN-BETWEENERS:  They may not be teenagers yet, but you’d never know it. At this age, if youngsters don’t take a hiatus from gardening in favor of friends and anything currently “super cool,” they can put their green thumbs to work in the family landscape and in community projects. While focusing on sports, fashion, or school plays fills their days to overflowing, how can gardening compete? In a word, it has to be “awesome.” Many students now do independent studies to demonstrate their mastery of a subject. These are the years when some gardening project guided by a biology teacher, group leader, neighbor, or parent just may set some youngsters on career paths. It’s enough to hope your child will grow up to garden, but who knows, you may have a budding botanist or future horticulturist in the family.

Check out the Family Fun section of our website for more activities you can do with your child or teen.  You’ll be glad you did!

Published on: November 10, 2013  

Gratitude Jar

In light of Thanksgiving, here’s a little project that you and your family can easily put together for some holiday cheer.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 jar, vase, or large bowl
  • Paper, cut into strips
  • Pen or marker
  • Decorations for the jar (stickers, ribbon, cut-out letters, etc.)

What you’ll do:

  • Decorate a jar/vase, which will become your family’s “Gratitude Jar.”
  • Every day during the month of November, each family member writes down one thing they are thankful for on a strip of paper.
  • Place all the strips in the jar, then pull them out and read them, one by one, on Thanksgiving day!
  • Better yet, keep writing what you’re thankful for all the way through the end of 2013, and you’ll have a fun (and long) night of reading what you’re thankful for on New Year’s Eve!

Warmest Regards,


Gyro Psychology Services

Lacey, Washington


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