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The schools surrounded by vegetation enhance the cognitive development of children

The schools surrounded by vegetation enhance the cognitive development of children

May 2, 2024

An investigation focused on the study of elementary school students from Barcelona suggests that Children who attend teaching centers with nearby vegetation and natural spaces tend to develop their cognitive skills better . The results have been published recently in PNAS.

The research team tested the students' abilities in terms of concentration and working memory, which is the ability to keep something in mind temporarily to carry out a task. The result of the data analysis shows how students who attend a school surrounded by green areas they yield more in these dimensions. In addition, differences in the socioeconomic status of families of children do not explain this discovery.

The study used as a sample a total of 2,000 second, third and fourth grade students attending 36 schools located in Barcelona (Spain). To order each of the schools according to the amount of vegetation around them, the team took satellite photographs of each of the schools and measured the amount of green that appeared on their grounds and perimeter.

Different causes, the same result

Part of the reasons why students in schools involved in vegetation could be doing more could be found in the quality of the air they breathe , as revealed by the analysis of the concentration of pollution . All plants provide pure air to the environment, but trees and shrubs also act as a barrier against air currents polluted by the smoke of cars. The same effect of Physical isolation occurs with noise coming from urban environments , which makes it easier for students to concentrate on tasks.

In addition, the presence of areas with vegetation could enhance the use of the environment to practice sports. Being that regular exercise helps reduce stress levels and can improve performance in certain cognitive areas It is very possible that students who go to schools immersed in a green environment feel more stimulated to attend in class and easily assimilate what they learn, not to be distracted and have a well trained mind to attend.

The environment affects us more than we thought

The social and urban implications they are more or less evident: replacing concrete patios and urban environments with wooded areas could have a positive impact on the way classes are used (and, in turn, improve the health of students and professionals in the center). Of course, not all schools have the possibility of opening up to natural spaces by being located in the center of large cities, but direct efforts to place even a few wooded areas on school grounds could be a quick and easy way to help young people to better train their mental abilities.

Childhood is a time when the smallest changes in the context can have a powerful influence on the cognitive development , and staying close to areas not modified by the workforce of the human species does not have to be much to ask.

Bibliographic references:

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