Embracing plants in schools is a growing trend. They feed children’s natural curiosity, and enable them to foster their creativity through gardening, and by incorporating elements of nature into art and their study of other subjects.
As a matter of fact, improving children’s mood and well-being with plants can be extremely effective, and this is something that has been proven time and time again.
One way that indoor plants can benefit children is by reducing their stress and increasing productivity.
As research from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) found, staff with at least one plant in their workplace experienced a reduction in feelings of anxiety by 37%, depression by 58%, and overall stress by 50%, and this is something that can also be applied to schools and educational facilities. Plants have also been proven to boost people’s memory and concentration levels, and a study from Texas A&M University found that workers placed in a room with plants and flowers generated 13% more ideas than workers who were in a room with sculptures.
This can be said to be due to plant’s effective ability to purify the air, lowering levels of mould, bacteria, dust, and everyday toxins (such as formaldehyde found in paper bags, paper towels, and facial tissues). Frequent, long-term exposure to these can cause symptoms that can impact our productivity, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat.
According to Biophilia, humans also feel a natural connection with nature, and a biological need to be close with it. This might explain why children and adults alike feel happier and calmer when they’re in the presence of plants.
Because just being near plants can provide countless benefits to your physical and mental health, you should be bringing plants into the classroom, as well as encouraging your students to spend more time in the great outdoors wherever possible.
Fortunately, incorporating greenery into your school’s existing décor is very easy to do. Choose plants and flowers that match the classroom’s colour scheme, and place them in clear sight of your students; think windowsills, shelving units, your desk, and alongside your whiteboard. If you’re lacking in space, a living wall or moss wall is a great option as it’s fitted to the wall with a unique bracket system, making a breath-taking statement and providing the same health benefits as potted plants.
As well as bringing plants into the classroom, another way that schools can boost children’s mood and well-being is by taking classes outdoors. Although PE (Physical Education) is an obvious choice, Art can also involve students using plants as inspiration. As well as sketching and panting them, they can pick leaves, flowers, and other natural materials to be used in the pieces they create. Additionally, you can incorporate nature into teaching is by using it as inspiration for creative writing tasks.
One of the reasons that spending time outdoors is so beneficial for children is because it reduces Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This is caused by spending an extended amount of time in the same building (such as your school or workplace), as everyday toxins in these environments cause you to feel unwell by causing headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.
Finally, according to a 2015 study by Westminster and Essex universities, gardening can also positively affect our health and general well-being. Their survey found that those who worked on allotments at least once a week had lower levels of fatigue, depression and anger, and higher self-esteem than those who did no gardening at all.
With that in mind, consider creating an allotment for the pupils of your school. This will do more than just boost their mood, as they’ll be able to learn more about growing and caring for their own plants. Students should also be encouraged to work together on the allotment to aid in teambuilding.
To find out more about phs Greenleaf’s range of planting services for schools and other educational facilities, contact us today.