The benefits of plants in schools and educational facilities

From improving the recovery time of hospital patients, to boosting the mood, morale and productivity of both hospital and office workers, we’ve already outlined the many health benefits of having indoor plants in offices and hospitals.

However, as plants provide so many benefits to our health and well-being, they’re also a great addition to schools and other educational facilities. This is because like offices and hospitals, stress levels often tend to run high in schools, and sickness bugs are easy spread from person to person due to increased close contact.

Want to know how indoor plants can increase the overall health and productivity of your classrooms? Here is our round-up of some of the most important benefits of plants in schools…

They improve class performance

It’s already been proven that being in the presence of plants can increase memory retention by around 20%, as well as improving people’s performance in a series of basic tests. This is thought to be due to the fact that their leaves and stems can absorb, deflect, and retract background noise, such as exterior traffic, children playing in the playground, and people talking in corridors.

To further reiterate this point, a study from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2010, discovered that performance of Year 6 and 7 students considerably improved when 3 plants were introduced to half of the classrooms being studied.

Examining the students’ performance in a range of fundamental areas, such as spelling, mathematics, reading and science, they found that the introduction of plants caused this to increase by 10 and 15%, which is considered to be significant progress in terms of learning.

As well as filtering out distracting background noise, another explanation for why plants can improve performance in the classroom is because they reduce levels of CO2. When exposed to high levels, this can cause headaches, dizziness, and tiredness, and these can all have an impact on your concentration.

They combat stress and feelings of anxiety

It can also be assumed that one reason indoor plants in schools can improve students’ performance is because that they’re able to reduce stress, tension, and feelings of anxiety. In fact, they’ve been shown to reduce feelings of tension and anxiety by around 37%, as well as anger by 44%. (source)

Most of us are aware that frequent high levels of stress can have a negative effect on a person’s health and well-being, from causing headaches, fatigue and general aches and pains (which can impact your productivity by making you feel generally unwell), to making you feel more sad, fearful, and irritable.

Fortunately, there are several plants that are proven to be great mood boosters! To reap the benefits, we’d recommend introducing Lemon Balm, Haworthia, and the Snake Plant to classrooms and school hallways.

They reduce sickness and absences

As we’ve already mentioned, having plants in schools will reduce the CO2 levels in the building, which reduces the chance of your staff and students experiencing unwanted side effects, such as headaches. However, a Norwegian study by Fjeld in 2002 concluded that introducing potted plants to classrooms reduced the amount of sickness-related absences amongst primary school students.

Nonetheless, it’s important to note that it’s not just high levels of CO2 that can make you feel unwell; there are several everyday toxins that have a similar effect on the body when you’re exposed to them for an extended period of time.

Like offices and hospitals, everyday toxins are present in many items you can find in schools and other educational facilities. Some examples include formaldehyde in tissues, paper bags, and paper towels, ammonia in cleaning products, and benzene in plastic resins. Fortunately, having plants in schools will help to purify the air of these toxins, with English Ivy and Red-Edged Dracaena being two of the most effective indoor plants for this purpose.

They can promote a sense of community

Finally, another benefit of having plants in schools is that they can be used to strengthen relationships between students within the classroom. This is because they can encourage social interaction, as well as promote teamwork and collaboration.

For example, teachers asking their students which plants they would like in their classroom generates discussion, and it also provides a great opportunity for the teacher to educate them on different plant types, how they grow, and how to successfully care for them.

Looking after classroom plants can also be turned into a group effort, with specific teams or individuals being responsible for caring for the plant at one time. This not only encourages them to work in teams, strengthening their social skills, but it will also give them a sense of responsibility and make them feel more capable and confident in themselves.