Many school boards in Canada are recognizing that green school grounds are beneficial for childhood learning and development. Greener school grounds directly impact children’s health and wellbeing, improve learning environments, and provide better access to nature.
To maximize these benefits, schools across Canada are becoming more environmentally friendly by creating outdoor classrooms and conducting tree inventories for better maintenance. Some schools are also applying to grant programs like Tree Canada’s Greening Canada’s School Grounds, that support the creation of green school grounds in which their students can play and learn.
Green schoolyards give children the opportunity to experience a healthy outdoor environment as part of their daily routines. Here are some tremendous benefits associated with green schoolyards:
Health and Wellbeing
- Green schoolyards promote imaginative and explorative play which fosters a creative environment and a healthy outlet for energy
- Green schoolyards promote healthier lifestyles through increased physical activity
- Green spaces have therapeutic properties which help improve mental well-being and contribute to calmer children with decreased negative emotions
Improved Learning Environment
- Studies have shown that children that actively engage with nature have ‘better grades, higher test scores, and enhanced knowledge’ on a variety of subjects
- Green schoolyards can help children focus and regulate their behaviour and attention patterns
Better Access to Nature
- Green schoolyards can provide every child with access to nature on a daily basis, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds
- Hands-on access to nature helps promote sensory rich experiences in an increasingly digitized world
Public school districts are among the largest landowners in cities and/or towns around the country. Choices made by schools on how they create and manage their landscapes directly impacts whether younger generations will grow up in a concrete world or a green one.
Some schools are taking it a step further by introducing green learning in the curriculum. Outdoor classrooms have become popular, especially during the pandemic, when some schools have taken lessons outdoors to help increase ventilation and space for social distancing.
If you’re thinking about creating outdoor classrooms, here are some great resources:
- Need lessons? Have a look at Science Rendezvous’ Million Tree Project which offers lessons for grade level K-8 on all thing’s trees.
- Looking for some quick tips? Project Learning Tree provides some great Tips for Creating an Outdoor Classroom.
- Want to go more in-depth? Follow Forests Ontario’s detailed outdoor classroom guide, which offers important considerations and case studies, among other resources.
Tree Canada’s Greening Canada’s School Grounds program supports school greening projects to enhance the learning experience for students and strengthen their relationship with nature. This grant program supports greening projects wherever learning takes place, with up to $3,500 in funding available per project.