School playgrounds need to get back to nature

Students, Christy Clark, Sir James Douglas school, Cloverdale school Victoria

Premier Christy Clark has announced $8 million for upgrading school playgrounds. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if “upgrades” meant not more plastic slides and climbing things, but a wider vision of what the grounds for children’s play could involve?

What if schools were to sponsor nature-based play? That would mean play in meadows and woods, among bird feeders, tiny fish ponds, hollow logs and low labyrinths created by interesting shrubs.

What if schools used their grounds not just for recess and sports, but for tracking and counting migrating birds and nests?

Think of the specimens students could find to put under microscopes in the classroom, think of what they could learn from schoolyard thermometers and sundials, from going out with collecting jars, sketch pads and story journals? Nature has always fed science, art and literature.

Some Victoria schools (Sir James Douglas and Cloverdale) have intriguing natural rock for kids to play on, but others, such as James Bay elementary, have nothing but blank flat concrete and climbing equipment.

As housing densifies and new parks fail to be created by municipalities, schoolyards become an ever-more significant portion of total urban green space. They should not be wasted by being black-topped.

Research tells us that time spent in nature makes children more relaxed, focused and refreshed for classroom learning.

No urban space is completely natural, but schools could do a lot better in becoming oases of greenspace in a paved, artificial, largely indoor world.

The B.C. Teachers Federation has pronounced the premier’s focus on playgrounds myopic, but in fact it could be the start of something transformative both to urban landscapes and to kids’ recreational lives, if only schools could shift the emphasis from monkey bars to the benefits of nature-play.

S.B. Julian

Victoria

Just Posted

‘Best in the country’: Formerly homeless man praises Victoria’s outreach services

Jay W. was living on the streets of downtown Victoria in 2018

Time-lapse video shows weekend work on McKenzie Interchange project

Construction crews place concrete underpass bridge beams

City of Victoria plans workshop to determine fate of Sir John A. Macdonald statue

Conversations will happen as part of a reconciliation dialogue series in May 2020

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at Thetis Lake prompt plea to public

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy park

Islanders have new cancer screening option with $6.5 M diagnostic suite in Victoria

The Gordon Heys Family PET/CT Suite was unveiled at the BC Cancer Centre-Victoria

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Most Read