Many schools are trying to green it up inside, but totally forget that they can also make a difference outside. School grounds offer an excellent chance to green your school.
School grounds are very important – not only do your kids play on the school grounds, but how the grounds are cared for affects the community. Plus the positive health and developmental benefits for kids who have access to healthy, greener school grounds are amazing.
If you’d like to audit your school’s ground and ground care consider the following…
- What sort of products are used on the actual grounds – chemical or organic? Does the school REALLY need to use chemical ground treatments?
- Is there a green space at all? Some schools have zero green space, instead sending kids out to play on pavement and bark. Green is healthy for kids. Kids need grass, flowers, trees and gardens to thrive and learn. In fact, school gardens have been shown to boost children’s well-being and development. The National Wildlife Foundation notes that, “5th grade students who participated in school gardening activities scored significantly higher on science achievement tests than students who had a curriculum without garden experiences.” If your school already has green spaces are they grown organically?
- Do more trees need to be planted for shade, windbreakers or to prevent water erosion?
- Is there litter laying around? Why? Are there enough garbage and recycling bins located on the campus?
- How much water is the school using? Can you build rainwater barrels, or cut out some grass and have a big sandbox instead? Is there natural vegetation that can thrive with less water use at your school? Is watering done at night and is watering eco-friendly; for example, sprinklers watering the sidewalk, not the grounds is a terrible waste of water.
- Does your school encourage natural wildlife specific to the area, such as bees, birds, and butterflies? If you don’t see any of these native creatures around your school yard, odds are, your school has the wrong sort of plants growing.
- Got an urban areas, with less space? Consider discussing a green roof with the school and community.
- An insanely cool 100 page booklet on greening school grounds (pdf)
- How to Choose Plants Kids Will Love to Grow in Their Classroom Project
- Plan an outdoor environment that fosters learning (pdf) – this is a bigger deal than you might think. According to a study by the State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER), 100% of schools who initiated an eco-based learning curriculum experienced students with improved behavior.
- Plan an eco-friendly water systems on school grounds
- A HUGE list of resources for greening your school grounds – the best green school grounds list I’ve ever seen.
Bonus link o’ the day – cool tips about greening your school, just for kids.
Top image © Photorious; mid-image via sxc.