At Swell UK, we like to think we know a thing or two about garden ponds, and an underrated value we have noticed is the huge amount of interesting things that children can learn from ponds, helping them better understand the natural world around them, how to help it out, and how to protect it.
However, a word to the wise: if you have children in your family and are considering a pond, you must of course recognise that safety comes first. Children should only be given access to a garden with a pond under supervision until you are sure they are old enough that the water no longer poses a drowning hazard. Supervision by a competent adult is all that is needed to get around this, however fences and nets can help reduce any danger.
Learning about fish
If you have clear water in your pond, the first thing your child or grandchild is going to notice is the fish. Most of the time, your fish, perhaps brightly coloured goldfish, are going to be the most interesting thing for your child at first glance, especially if you have surface feeding species and your little friend can see them at feeding time – a great way to introduce them.
It’s a great opportunity to test their knowledge about animals that are so much different to us. Don’t forget to explain about how they get oxygen from the water using their gills, and teach them the names of the fish species so they can learn to recognise the different types – a great confidence boost to most kids!
Learning about Ecosystems
Your pond is a great way to demonstrate to your child the way in which a functioning Ecosystem works! Eco systems are all around us, from being contained within a single drop of water, to systems on a nationwide, and continent sized scale. But one of the best to learn from is your garden bond.
Depending on the age of your child, the full chemical complexities of the nitrogen cycle might be a little hard to comprehend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explain how your fish produce waste, which is broken down by bacteria into useful things, which in turn are used by the plants and algae in your pond. You may go as far as to explain how your filtration system works, helping to keep the water clean.
Your pond ecosystem is a great starting point for learning, as your child can easily see things that make a difference to your pond, such as sunlight in the summer. Make sure you help point out changes in your pond throughout the seasons too, even if it means getting your boots on and out in the snow!
Learning about eco-diversity
While it is your fish that will probably grab your child’s attention first, ensuring wildlife diversity by planting some boarder plants can really help expand your child’s horizons. Frogs, newts and visiting birds can often be observed with a keen eye, perhaps with a little direction from you.
Frogs especially are a great way to teach your child about life cycles. Finding some frog spawn and pointing it out to the child may spark their interest, and watching them develop into tadpoles and then frogs is a fascinating experience, even for adults!
Learning about death and the cycle of life
This may sound a little morbid, but developing a healthy understanding of the inevitability of death and the cycle of life is an important thing for a developing mind to grasp. Obviously not best pointed out too early in a child’s development, done when you feel the child is old enough, the changing seasons is a great way to show the sprouting of new plants, their flowering, and then their reduction and death in winter, only to begin again in spring.
What a beautiful way to begin to understand the natural cycle?!
Learning how to care
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, once your child has learnt how the ecosystem operates in your pond, they can be taught how to care for it, from ensuring there are clean filters, to the impressively scientific looking process of testing the water quality. Learning to care is perhaps one of the most important possible traits of humanity, and pond care can teach your child some vital lessons for life.