Each day, we pass trees, plants and flowers, taking little notice to the world of nature that surrounds us. We have all become so accustomed to every footpath, road and building being filled with rows of greenery that we rarely take time to appreciate the natural wonders that surround us.
Trees come alongside a plethora of benefits, not only to the environment but also us, as humans. They are proven to improve overall health and wellbeing, making it more important than ever to utilise the natural resource to your advantage. Planting trees is particularly beneficial to areas that focus on education; they can even be used as a handy addition to the curriculum for younger learners. With this in mind, we have devised a guide to the benefits of planting trees in schools.
Benefits Of Planting Trees In Schools
Due to the array of fantastic perks that trees bring, it has now become super easy to fill your school with any species of your choice – and even better, they are for free! Two excellent organisations have set up campaigns to provide schools in the UK with free trees, these are:
- Tree Appeal: Available for all schools and colleges based in the UK or Ireland, the Tree Appeal is focused on “habitat creation, biodiversity targets and social benefits.” Trees provided are generously paid for by the organisation’s corporate sponsors; all you will need to do is take charge of planting them. To apply, the Tree Appeal asks institutions to describe the project they have in mind, covering a set of simple points.
- Woodland Trust: To coincide with the tree-planting season, the Woodland Trust gives away free trees during the months of March and November. Packs are available for all schools and community groups across the UK and are available in samplings of 30, 105 or 420. Those who teach younger learners will also be provided with activities to inspire pupils on the world of nature and wildlife.
Thanks to the generous organisations mentioned above, planting trees on your school campus couldn’t be any easier. If you are new to planting, there are tonnes of tutorials online such as those features on the Trees Are Good website – you could even get pupils involved in the project! On the other hand, you could enlist a helping hand from professionals who can guarantee the safety of newly planted trees. Many of our clients who opt for landscaping in Milton Keynes also request for trees to be planted once a year, along with maintaining the health of their current plants.
Now that we are familiarised with how to apply for free onsite trees, we can delve a little deeper into the primary benefits.
Trees are a great way to improve the overall aesthetics of your school campus. Picnics, BBQ’s and Summer evening walks all widely take place in public parks, lakes and forests all for one primary reason – to admire the lush greenery that surrounds us while we relax. The same concept can be achieved by incorporating life to your premises.
Not only is it vital to ensure that aesthetics are maintained for pupils, but also to create a positive first impression. Ultimately, educational institutions want to attract new learners each academic year, and this is only possible if parents or carers are drawn towards your school over others in the area. They want to be reassured that their children will not only receive the highest level of education but will also be safe and will enjoy the time spent learning.
It is essential that all trees on site are maintained and cared for throughout the year. Regular check-ups will retain both aesthetics and safety. Unpruned trees pose many hazards such as the risk of tripping on fallen branches to students, teachers and visitors. All information regarding tree risk management can be found on the HSE website.
During the warmer month, while we do not reach temperatures as high as overseas, it can still prove tricky to cool down. Trees are in full bloom in the Summer, which creates the perfect shaded spot for pupils that prefer a cooler environment away from the sunshine.
Many schools strategically plant trees around recreation spaces that are known for being suntraps. It allows the areas to cool down, so pupils can still enjoy the fresh air but without the sweltering heat. This is particularly beneficial for primary schools as younger children should try to limit sun exposure as much as possible. The School Run has more great tips on how you can promote sun safety in primary schools.
Create Outdoor Learning Space
While it may seem a little less convenient to take the classroom outside, you would be surprised at the plethora of benefits outdoor learning can have on children’s development. As a teacher, you will empathise with the struggle of trying to persuade pupils to look away from the window on a warm day and towards the board, so feed their curiosity and take the lesson outside! If you have an area surrounded by trees, this creates the perfect outdoor classroom space.
A recent study by Frontiers in Psychology shows that opting to teach pupils outdoors is not only seen as a more creative method, but it will also enhance their focus when they step back in the classroom. They will be able to use the sights, sounds and smells around their to boost their concentration and will be away from the distraction of the outside world through the window. Scheduling an outdoor lesson once or twice a week will give students something to look forward to; ultimately, improving attendance and the enthusiasm to learn. You can find more reasons to take your lessons outdoors on Play Cubed.
Improves Air Quality
Whether we are on the topic of trees, shrubs or flowers, plants as a whole are renowned for improving the overall air quality. They have proven air-purification properties, which are capable of absorbing harmful gases such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), along with the traditional carbon dioxide.
Plants clean the air through a process that we are all more than aware of, photosynthesis. Through the leaves, they absorb carbon dioxide and any potentially harmful chemicals and breathe out fresh, pure oxygen. It promotes the circulation of clean, healthy air which is particularly beneficial for those suffering from conditions such as asthma and nausea; hence, why when you’re feeling sick or have a headache, stepping outside for fresh air makes you instantly feel better.
Fantastic Teaching Resource
Not only are trees ideal for creating a natural teaching environment, but they can also be used as a fantastic, free learning resource. Particularly when taking science classes on topics such as the environment, wildlife and photosynthesis, rather than explaining via diagrams, take pupils outdoors and allow them to learn through sensory techniques. Real-life, first-hand experiences are increasingly more likely to stick in the minds of children, as opposed to a set of textbook pages. They will be excited to venture outside for their next nature-based lesson.
If you are in the process of planning a tree-planting project, this provides the perfect opportunity to get pupils involved. Rather than leaving the responsibility to caretakers, consider setting up a environmental club and invite children to join. Throughout the process, they will be taught a number of personal skills such as team-work, organisation and communication. They will then have the thrill of watching their creation grow!
Marks The Season
The change in the appearance of trees marks a new season approaching, which is, again, an excellent learning resource for smaller children. While older students pass trees without much notice, those in their first few years of primary school study every change that unfolds around them. They use experiences that cause an emotion to learn and develop, even small differences such as the colour change in leaves. Trees can be used to teach pupils on different seasons and how they impact the environment living around them.
ESL Kids Stuff has lots of handy resources and lesson plan ideas for teaching the seasons, including songs, games and literacy tasks.
Lowers Stress Levels
In more recent years, there has been an increasing focus on pinpointing methods of improving the mental health amongst young people. According to research by Full Fact, 78% of primary leaders admitted that they had noticed an increase in stress, anxiety and panic attacks amongst student due to exam stress. Between 2016 and 2017, Childline also reported that they had delivered over 3,000 remote counselling session for pupils under exam stress. With this in mind, it is now more important than ever to surround schools with stress-busting techniques – trees are able to contribute towards just that!
Immersing yourself in nature when stress levels are feeling high is known for encouraging a psychologic boost, allowing your mood to be positively altered. It is thought to benefit the body both mentally and physically, such as boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and increases energy levels.
Opting to plant trees around the school campus will provide students with a peaceful retreat when they begin not to feel themselves. Pupils that struggle a little more can be placed in seats near to the window so they can see nature outdoors, with the option to take a walk outside if required.
Create A Campus Brimming With Nature!
After browsing through the many benefits of planting trees across the school campus, it would be hard to say no to the project. Not only can creating an environment brimming with nature boost concentration, but also the overall wellbeing of students, allowing them to enjoy the school chapter of their life.
If you are in need of any onsite services to improve the environmental side of your school, then please feel free to contact Neal Landscapes. Our experts specialise in anything from landscape maintenance in Northampton to tree surgery in Bedford!