Green spaces in schools could help children perform better


According to a recent study published in the American journal PNAS, exposing young children to greenery could help improve their cognitive development. Over the course of one year, children in schools that had green spaces experienced an increase in running memory.

Researchers from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona took an interest in this subject, starting with the fact that green spaces are already scientifically associated with better physical and mental health.

Every three months between January 2012 and March 2013, the researchers measured and evaluated the cognitive modifications that occurred in the 2,593 children aged 6 to 10. Data on green spaces at home and at school was recorded using satellite images.

Their conclusions indicate that there could be a strong correlation between green spaces in schools and the children’s running memory.

In fact, a significant increase in the children’s exposure to greenery led to a 5% increase in their running memory and a 1% decrease in their inattentiveness in class at the end of the year.

According to this study, green spaces also helped put an end to the memory troubles of 9% of the students who suffered them.

The researchers also stated in PNAS that green spaces in schools facilitate an increase in physical activities and reduce noise.

However, no significant link has been found between green spaces at home and the children’s cerebral aptitude.

The researchers also assessed levels of elemental carbon, what they called traffic-related air pollution and which naturally tends to be lower in areas with more green space. They found that when the role of pollution was added into their models, it explained 20 to 65% of the link between greenery and better cognitive development.

This discovery is the first to establish such a precise link. “Contact with nature is thought to play a crucial and irreplaceable role in brain development,” says Payam Dadvand, a co-author of this study.

“Natural environments including green spaces provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk taking, discovering, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, and enhancing psychological restoration, which are suggested to influence positively different aspects of cognitive development.”

Source: AFP Relaxnews