Friday, August 15, 2014

Natural-terrain schoolyards reduce children’s stress

According to a new study from my old alma mater (the University of Colorado, Boulder… Go Buffs!) schoolyards that feature natural habitats and trees, not just asphalt and recreation equipment, reduce children’s stress and can help alleviate attention problems.  Playing in these more natural areas at recess, working on class assignments under the trees and helping in a school gardens have all been shown to provide stress-reducing benefits for kids.

Time and again, research has shown that spending time in nature enhances children’s wellbeing—from mental health to physical fitness.  Kids spend a large percentage of their waking hours at school, so schools are great places for communities to create pockets of nature for kids to experience.

The researchers in the University of Colorado study found that schoolyards with natural terrain—such as dirt, trees, native shrubs and water features—foster feelings of competence and supportive relationships between kids.

Perhaps there are sections of asphalt at your community school that could be converted to native trees or a school garden.  For more ideas, Check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitats Program.