Tree improve academic achievement – green space on school properties matter

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Exposure to green spaces, including urban forests, not only help improve the attention function of students, but has also been found to contribute to increased academic performance. While research has continued to indicate the benefits of green spaces for health, such as decreased asthma prevalence [] (Lovasi et al. 2008) or better concentration after activity in green spaces for children with ADHD [] (Taylor and Kuo, 2009), trees in the schoolyard itself seems to have an impact on academic achievement. Multiple studies have shown benefits of local green spaces that cross economic and social boundaries, but availability of, and access to, green schoolyards is typically reduced/restricted in lower economic areas which, as noted, also provides health benefits.
Whether providing a visual respite from the classroom, or as an outdoor activity space, direct exposure in the schoolyard indicates a relationship to academic achievement exists. A 2018 study by Kuo et. al. []states “Previous research in relatively well-off populations has linked vegetation in schoolyards and surrounding neighborhoods to better school performance even after controlling for important confounding factors, raising the tantalizing possibility that greening might boost academic achievement.” But their recent study suggests that green on the school grounds provides benefits beyond the impact of green in the neighborhood, stating in their conclusion:  “The study here suggests that greening has the potential to mitigate academic underachievement in high-poverty urban schools. This study also helps guide the where and what of such efforts. Green cover predicted academic performance even in a highly disadvantaged population of schools. The G-AA link was driven primarily by near-school trees and not by residential tree cover, suggesting that experimental greening efforts might focus on school grounds and the areas within view of the school. Further, tree cover was tied to academic performance, but grass and shrub cover was not, suggesting that experimental greening efforts might focus on planting trees…”
Access to see green spaces, time and room for activity in green spaces, benefit students across ages and incomes and should be viewed as a tool to improving education outcomes that does not require more curriculums or testing, but provides an environment that supports the natural learning process.