Schools surrounded by vegetation improve children’s cognitive development

Research focused on studying Barcelona elementary school students suggests that boys and girls who attend schools with nearby vegetation and natural spaces tend to develop their cognitive skills better. The results were recently published in PNAS.

The research team tested the students’ skills in terms of concentration ability and working memory, which is the ability to temporarily keep something in mind to complete a task. The result of the data analysis shows how students get to a school surrounded by green spaces they pay more in these dimensions. Moreover, the differences in the socio-economic status of families of children do not explain this result.

The study used as a sample a total of 2000 second, third and fourth graders who attended 36 schools located in Barcelona (Spain). To sort each of the schools based on the amount of vegetation surrounding them, the team took satellite photographs of each of the schools and measured the amount of green that appeared on their land and around its perimeter.

Several causes, same result

Part of the reasons why students wrapped in vegetation might perform better could be found in the quality of the air they breathe, As the analysis of the concentration of Pollution. All plants provide clean air to the environment, but trees and shrubs also act as a barrier against drafts polluted by car smoke. The same effect of Physical isolation occurs with noise from urban environments, Make it easier for students to focus on homework.

In addition, the presence of areas with vegetation could improve the use of the environment for sports. Feeling that regular exercise helps reduce stress levels and may improve performance in some cognitive domains, It is very possible that students who attend schools immersed in a green environment will feel more stimulated to attend classes and easily assimilate what they are learning, not to be distracted and to have a mind well trained to do so. assist.

The environment affects us more than we thought

Social and urban implications they are more or less obvious: replacing concrete courtyards and urban settings with wooded areas could have a positive impact on the way we enjoy lessons (and, incidentally, improve the health of students and professionals in the field of school). Of course, not all schools have the opportunity to open up to natural spaces as they are located in the center of large cities, but directing efforts to place them even in wooded areas on school grounds could be helpful. a quick and easy way to help young people. better train their mental capacities.

Childhood is a time when minimal context changes can influence cognitive developmentAnd staying near areas unmodified by humans doesn’t have to be very demanding.

Bibliographical references:

  • Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, MJ, Esnaola, M., Forns, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., et al. (2015). Green spaces and cognitive development of primary school children, PNAS, online consultation. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1503402112

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