Green Schoolyards Prove Havens From Stress

By Louise Chawla, Kelly Keena, Illène Pevec, and Emily Stanley

Boulder, CO – In a study to be published July 2014 in Health & Place, researchers highlight the results of their investigation into how green schoolyards can reduce stress and promote protective factors for resilience in students.

The research,  titled “Green schoolyards as havens from stress and resources for resilience in childhood and adolescence,” documents student responses to green schoolyards in Maryland and Colorado under three conditions:

  • young elementary school children׳s play in wooded areas during recess;
  • older elementary school children׳s use of a naturalized habitat for science and writing lessons; and
  • high school students׳ involvement in gardening.

Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews, findings describes how the natural areas enabled students to escape stress, focus, build competence, and form supportive social groups. Here’s more:

  • In green schoolyards, students find peace away from stresses in the classroom and daily life.
  • The variety of engaging affordances in green schoolyards promotes focusing.
  • Students in green schoolyards built competence and cooperative social relationships.

Findings have implications for theories of resilience and restoration and school interventions for stress management.