A recent article on redOrbit presents some tantalizing research on the benefit of “natural” playgrounds for children.
“Children who play on playgrounds that incorporate natural elements like logs and flowers tend to be more active than those who play on traditional playgrounds with metal and brightly colored equipment, according to a recent UT study.
They also appear to use their imagination more.”
This is only one initial study, so the jury is still out on whether these findings are significant. But if this effect of a “natural playscape” is true on the playground, imagine the effect on children’s behavior if we changed their entire school environment to be more “natural.”
Imagine if we redesigned public schools to incorporate more greenery, integrated greater amounts of natural light, and designed pathways that alternated fluidly between open spaces for socialization and smaller areas for study and contemplation. Imagine if we consciously designed the interiors with colors and furniture to enhance mood and concentration. Imagine if we considered not only visible sightlines for all pathways and stairwells for safety, but furthermore considered the acoustic design of classrooms.
Let’s go beyond playgrounds. Let’s design public schools that have the well-being of children at their heart.