Dr. Pratiksha Rigley
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Ms. McAlister, Plano TX Ms. McAlister has worked for Dr. Rigley's schools for many years, and loves to work in the Primrose Patch with her students!

Planting the Roots for Lifelong Healthy Habits

By: Dr. Pratiksha Rigley  |  Franchise Owner, Rigley Primrose Schools

Primrose School of Frisco West
Primrose School of Park Cities
Primrose School of Plano at Preston Meadow
Primrose School of Prestonwood
Primrose School of Waco at Woodway

There’s no shortage of challenges that accompany parenthood. Among them is instilling healthy habits in your little ones. With children today spending less time outdoors, more time in front of screens, and as childhood obesity rates grow, nurturing healthy behavior early on is more important than ever before. One simple way to get young children engaged in making healthy  choices that can be done in your own backyard is planting a garden.

Gardening with children can help establish healthy habits that will benefit children throughout their lives. Digging, weeding and watering require physical exertion and increase strength, endurance and coordination. Children who are routinely active at a young age are more likely to grow into active adults.  

Growing vegetables or produce with children can also help them develop positive attitudes toward, and preferences for, nutritious foods. Children are more likely to accept a new food if it’s offered 10-15 times, and they will be more willing to try a new vegetable or fruit if they’ve helped grow and prepare it. For healthy snack ideas that you can involve your children in preparing, check out Primrose Schools’ Snacktivity videos on YouTube.

Beyond fostering traditional healthy habits, gardening with children can also help them practice important traits and skills like patience, teamwork, responsibility and planning. And, gardening
naturally lends itself to valuable science and ecology lessons. Children can directly observe the impact water, sunshine and food have on the survival of plants. Plus, the investigatory skills they practice help build critical thinking skills.

To make the most of your family’s gardening adventure, Primrose offers the following tips:

  • Choose plants together. Take your child to your local garden center or co-op to select plants. To increase the probability that your child will have a positive gardening experience, recommend low-maintenance plants with high success rates for your part of the country, but let her choose a few on her own.
  • Give ownership. Set aside an area specifically for your child to garden. If he wants to drop an entire packet of seeds in one hole, encourage him to experiment and see what happens.
  • Use small tools. Many manufacturers offer smaller, child-sized gardening tools like trowels, gloves, rakes and hoes. Smaller tools are safer and easier for children to handle, and having their own tools will make them feel more responsible for their contributions to the garden.  
  • Show genuine interest. Demonstrate to your child how much you enjoy gardening by tending to the plants daily and vocalizing how you look forward to it each day. The difference between gardening and yard work is fun, and children can tell the difference.
  • Ask questions along the way. Children’s natural curiosity is bound to emerge during your gardening. You can help them learn by asking questions, prompting them to observe changes that occur or differences between plants, and offering information as you go.  
  • Celebrate! After all of your hard work together, celebrate by harvesting the fruits of your labor. Serve the vegetables for dinner (have your child help pick the menu), decorate the table with cut flowers from the garden, and share garden gifts with friends.   
  • Continue the learning and fun. Take pictures of your family’s gardening adventures as fun mementos of your time spent together.


Read books and explore websites to learn more about your garden and all of the different parts that play a role in its success! Here are a few book recommendations:

  • “The Carrot Seed” by Ruth Krauss (ages 3-4)
  • “Tops & Bottoms” by Janet Stevens (ages 4-7)
  • “Diary of a Worm” by Doreen Cronin (ages 4-8)
  • “Growing Vegetable Soup” by Lois Ehlert (ages 2+)
  • “Dig, Plant, Grow” by Felder Rushing (ages 6-10)
  • “Grow It, Cook It with Kids” by Amanda Grant (ages 9+)

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