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We’re feel fortunate in the Perth Hills to be on nature’s doorstep, but does operating a College surrounded by trees, native fauna and wildlife really make a difference to learning outcomes for our students?
Researchers at the University of Western Australia have found contact with nature can be associated with several health benefits for children, such as improved cognitive function, increased creativity, improved interaction with adults, increased attention spans and reduced rates of stress and aggression.
In particular a focus on educators and education settings, showed the following key benefits:
- Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pinecones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children’s immune system as well as their imagination
- Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress; have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression; and have a higher measure of self-worth
- Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills
- Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help kids learn to recognise, assess and negotiate risk and build confidence and competence
- Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other
- Bullying behaviour is greatly reduced where children have access to diverse nature-based play environments
At Helena we believe outdoor, tactile experiences in nature can influence how our students feel and behave, and are largely responsible for some of the fondest memories they form while at our campuses in Darlington and Glen Forrest.
We’re lucky not to have to spend time and money on greening our school playgrounds. Being geographically, biologically and organically immersed in a nature-filled learning environment (and part of a sustainably conscious community), is quite simply, already our way of life at Helena College.