Play, learn and work
in a green schoolyard

Opportunities for children and teachers

written by Carlien Nijdam and Sybren Slimmen
teacher researchers for the lectorate Healthy Region and Educational Excellence

We have all gone to primary school once upon a time. We have all spent time in the schoolyard, and all have memories of that time. Memories about the layout of the schoolyard, about the games and maybe about lessons outside in the schoolyard. The schoolyard is part of the school, but to what extent does it contribute to the development of pupils and teachers? The choices made for the layout of the schoolyard have effects; this article discusses what these effects are.


More and more studies¹ ² show a positive effect of a natural school environment on the development of children. A green environment contributes to motoric, cognitive and social development. In addition, the green schoolyard seems to offer opportunities to reduce stress.¹

HZ carried out a research for “IVN Natuureducatie” to gain more insight into the situation in Zeeland. Students of sports science have conducted interviews at 28 schools in Zeeland. In addition, a literature study was done.

The benefits of greenery

The literature study shows that a green schoolyard contributes positively to well-being, concentration and exercise behaviour¹ ². Students, parents and teachers also have a higher appreciation of a green schoolyard. A green schoolyard ensures that there are more and more varied play and movement facilities and that the ability to concentrate improves. It improves the well-being of the children: they enjoy school more, have more friends and are bullied less³. The social climate improves because there is less fighting and less bullying. This is also noticeable in the classroom. It offers more opportunities to organize lessons outside, so that teachers can exercise more themselves and are more in contact with nature.


More and more studies show a positive effect of a natural school environment on the development of children, the green environment mainly contributing to motoric, cognitive and social development. ¹ ² ³ ⁴. Some studies even show that the school performance of children enhances if the environment is greener ⁵ ⁶ ⁷. A green schoolyard is therefore a huge opportunity for children.

Green schoolyards in Zeeland

There are very few schools in Zeeland where the greenery on the schoolyard is used during lessons or for breaks. The greener the yard, the more often and more versatile the yard will be used during and outside classes. A large part of the teachers in primary education experiences a high workload. With the expectation of an increasing shortage of teachers, it is likely that the workload will only increase. A green schoolyard seems to offer opportunities to reduce stress. It offers more opportunities to organize lessons outside, bringing teachers more in contact with nature and offers them more exercise. Zeeland teachers state that they find outside lessons pleasant and would like to visit the outdoor areas more often. Giving a lesson in a green schoolyard provides them with more energy and thereby contributes to their overall vitality. In short, a green schoolyard has a positive effect on both children and teachers. It offers opportunities to promote the development of children and improve the vitality of teachers.

In conclusion, it can be stated that a green schoolyard has a positive effect on both children and teachers. It offers opportunities to promote the development of children and improve vitality. Would this conclusion also apply to HZ students and staff


Interested in the report of this Zeeland practical research? You can find it here.

References:

1) De Vries, S., Langers, F., Donders, J., Willeboer, M., & Van den Berg, A. (2013). Meer groen op het schoolplein: Een interventiestudie. Wageningen: Alterra Wageningen UR.

2) Maas, J., Tauritz, R., Van der Wal, A., & Hovinga, D. (2013). Groene schoolpleinen; Een

wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar de effecten voor basisschoolleerlingen. Amsterdam: Vrije

Universiteit Amsterdam

3) De Vries, S., Langers, F., Goossen, C., Van Rijn, S., Vlasblom, E., Sterkenburg, R., & Pierik, F. (2017). Interventiestudie Gezonde Schoolpleinen; Het effect op leerlingen van het herinrichten van schoolplein tot gezond schoolplein. Wageningen: Alterra

4) Van den Berg, A. (2011). Natuur als therapie bij ADHD: Literatuurstudie, interviews met deskundigen, en empirisch onderzoek. Wageningen: Alterra.2.Frost, J., & Klein, B. (1979). Children’s play and playgrounds. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

5) Alloway, T., & Alloway, R. (2010). Investigating the predictive roles of working memory and IQ in academic attainment. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

6) Best, J., Miller, P., & Naglieri, J. (2011). Relations between executive function and academic

achievement from ages 5 to 17 in a large, representative national sample. Learning and Individual Differences

7) Shaul, S., & Schwartz, M. (2014). The role of the executive functions in school readiness among 15 preschool-age children. Reading and Writing

"A green environment contributes to motoric, cognitive and social development."