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Indoor plants are a trend in millennial homes. And now they're in Aussie classrooms too.

Indoor plants are becoming the staple of every millennial’s home and a ‘must have’ on any interior decorator’s shopping list. The Google search, ‘how to keep your indoor plants alive’ is trending (okay the last one I made up, but I am sure it is up there).

The point is, indoor plants are popular right now, and their presence is even extending to a regional Victorian primary school. And with over 20 plants in some classrooms, their role is more than just for aesthetics or their ‘cool’ factor.

In fact, their purpose is quite significant as they contribute to creating a positive and calming learning environments.

“Having indoor plants in our school’s classrooms has been common for many years,” Buninyong Primary School Teacher and millennial, Katie Adamson, tells Mamamia.

Yet it wasn’t until a recent professional development course held for staff at the school that a proactive approach to ‘greening’ the classrooms was undertaken.

indoor plants Australia schools
The benefits go beyond the aesthetic. Image: Supplied.

“The PD outlined all the beneficial impacts having plants inside the classroom can have, whether they are real or fake," the 25-year-old says.

"Their effect in reducing anxiety has been quite remarkable, so utilising this within the classroom as a part of the ‘Calmer Classrooms’ initiative seemed like a great idea."

The ‘Calmer Classrooms’ program, an initiative based upon three theories: Attachment Theory, Trauma Theory and the Child Development Theory. It seeks to create the most positive and calm environment for learning within the classroom.

It is quite a widespread approach throughout Australia; especially with a rise in anxiety in children being reported. Utilising indoor plants as a part of this though however, is something that's just starting to becoming popular.

“After explaining why, we asked all parents of our Grade One students to help by purchasing a plant for their children to bring in. Our aim is to have each student in our classroom have one plant and we are nearly there,” Katie says.

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And as a result, the four Grade One classrooms at Buninyong Primary School are seas of spiky, flowery and leafy greens. There has been great enthusiasm for the program from parents and students alike, with them bringing in anything from cacti, to succulents and cuttings from their own gardens.

indoor plants Australia schools
“We have to water them each day and put them on our own desk during the day to look after." Image: Supplied.

"We have plants in our classroom to make us calm, they help us stay calm while working,” Grade One student Elsie says.

And these observations are backed up by extensive research that has found the presence of potted plants to be helpful in classrooms. Some of their positive impacts include:

  • Increasing attentiveness,
  • Improving attendance,
  • Improving well-being, and,
  • Lowering levels of anxiety by making students feel more relaxed and calm.

Real-life greenery further helps to improve the air quality, or, as another Year One student, Eve, said, “they help make the classroom smell good.” Extensive NASA research supports this observation, showing that houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxins in 24 hours.

As a teacher, Katie says the plants have helped to instil a sense of responsibility and ownership in her students as they're expected to look after their plants.

“We have to water them each day and put them on our own desk during the day to look after. We put them back near the window in the afternoon to get the sun,” another Year One student, Addison, says.

“Students have shown great enthusiasm, especially when a new plant arrives! With this enthusiasm we hope to keep the program going in different forms into the future,” Katie says.

Are you a teacher? Do you have indoor plants in your classroom? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Shona Hendley is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. Shona is usually busy writing and raising her children: three goats, two cats and two humans. You can follow her on Instagram @shonamarion

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