Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Gardening for Growth: Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips for Springtime Exploration

Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Springtime is a season of rebirth and growth, not just for nature but also for children. As the world outside begins to bloom, it presents an excellent opportunity for children to engage in sensory activities that can aid their development. One such activity is gardening. Gardening with children can be a fun and therapeutic way to help them reach developmental milestones while also providing a platform for sensory exploration. At Flourishing Lives in St. Clair Shores, MI, we believe that pediatric occupational therapy can be seamlessly integrated into everyday activities like gardening.

What Gross Motor Skills are Needed for Gardening?

Gardening is not just about planting seeds and watching them grow; it's also about developing gross motor skills. These are the abilities required to perform larger movements involving the arms, legs, feet or entire body. Activities such as digging holes, carrying watering cans, pulling weeds and raking leaves all require coordination and control of large muscle groups.

For instance, when a child digs a hole to plant a seed, they use their arm and hand muscles in coordination with visual guidance. This action helps improve their hand-eye coordination. Similarly, carrying watering cans or pots filled with soil requires balance and strength – both essential gross motor skills.

Why Would Working in Gardens Stimulate Sensory Exploration for Children?

Gardening offers an array of sensory experiences that can stimulate children's senses in unique ways. The feel of soil on their hands, the smell of fresh flowers or herbs, the sight of colorful blossoms – all these experiences provide rich sensory input.

Children with sensory processing disorder often struggle with processing information from their senses correctly. They may be oversensitive or undersensitive to certain stimuli like touch or sound. Gardening offers gentle yet varied sensory experiences that can help these children better understand and regulate their responses to different sensory inputs.

Can Gardening Help Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Gardening can be particularly beneficial for children with ADHD or ASD. The repetitive nature of gardening tasks, such as watering plants or weeding, can provide a calming effect and help improve focus in children with ADHD. For children on the autism spectrum, the sensory experiences offered by gardening can help them better understand their environment and improve their sensory processing skills.

Moreover, gardening also provides opportunities for social interaction and communication – areas where children with ASD often struggle. By working together to plant seeds or water plants, children can learn to cooperate, share tasks and communicate effectively.

Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips for Gardening

Here are some pediatric occupational therapy tips to make gardening a more enriching experience for your child:

1. Start Small: Begin with simple tasks like watering plants or picking up leaves. Gradually introduce more complex tasks like digging holes or planting seeds.

2. Use Child-Friendly Tools: Ensure that all gardening tools are safe and appropriate for your child's age and abilities.

3. Incorporate Learning: Make the activity educational by teaching your child about different plants, their growth process, and their needs.

4. Encourage Sensory Exploration: Allow your child to touch different textures (like soil, leaves, flowers), smell various scents and observe the colors in the garden.

5. Be Patient: Remember that the goal is not to have a perfect garden but to provide an enriching experience for your child.


Gardening is not just a hobby; it's a therapeutic tool that can aid in the development of gross motor skills, sensory processing abilities and social skills in children. At Flourishing Lives in St. Clair Shores MI, we believe that integrating pediatric occupational therapy into everyday activities like gardening can significantly aid in achieving developmental milestones in children while making therapy fun and engaging.

Ready to help your child flourish through gardening? Contact Flourishing Lives today at 586-293-1234 or visit our website to learn more about our pediatric occupational therapy services in St. Clair Shores, MI. Let's cultivate growth and development together!

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