Now that school is out, are your kids already bored? Sometimes it seems as though they’ll spend the entire summer just lounging on the couch! Can you win the battle against the summer blahs? Studies show that obesity is becoming more and more of an epidemic among our youths, so it’s worth the fight. Sedentary pastimes like watching television, surfing the Internet, and playing video games are eating up big chunks of our kids’ time and are largely to blame for this growing problem. Gardening, on the other hand, is very well known for its health benefits. In addition to exercise and vitamin D consumption from the warm sun, gardening is good for the heart and soul, making it a great activity for kids of all ages. But with an abundance of new games and technological advances constantly competing for your child’s attention, parents need to get creative and find new, innovative ways to get young ones outside and interested in gardening. Here are some of the benefits of getting your kids off the couch and into the garden: Knowledge. Your kids will become more environmentally responsible by discovering how their actions influence the environment. They’ll also gain a better understanding of how things grow. Appreciation of life. In this fast-paced world, children can gain perspective to see something grow and take on a life from a single seed. Self-esteem. Gardening can be a great confidence builder! In completing watering and fertilizing tasks, children will see their plants thrive; and as your child’s plant blossoms, so will his or her self-assurance. Stress relief. Growing up is tough; kids need a stress reliever just as much as adults do. Ever notice how great weed pulling is for anger management? Spending time with the family. Gardening can offer a chance for quality one-on-one time where you can really get a chance to talk with your child. You’ll also be building a treasure trove of memories that will last a lifetime. Looking for some fun ways to lure your kids out to the garden? Try some of these creative ideas: Sow seeds in shapes. Have your child sow seeds in the shape of a heart, star, or even their first initial. This will personalize the experience and keep your child interested in the project’s progress. Radishes or carrots would work well for this activity, or try a low-growing annual like sweet alyssum. Create a treasure hunt. Give your child a list of items to find in the garden, such as different colored flowers, types of rocks, or types of leaves. This will turn learning into a fun experience. Assign maintenance areas. If you have more than one child in your family, you can assign each child an area to weed, rake, and water; doing this can spark healthy competition between siblings, as each strives to maintain the cleanest, best-looking area. Not only will your yard benefit, but the competition will fuel their interest in gardening. Hold weed pulling contests. Again, this creates healthy competition and turns a potentially mundane task into an exciting adventure. And did I mention it’s great for anger management? As Mary Poppins says, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. So make gardening fun! Turn it into a game. Who knows - maybe you’ll get your kids hooked for life.