Improving Your Child's Performance With Feng Shui - How a Green Environment Can Help

Social studies have shown that a child's environment has a profound effect on his/her personality development. The modern concept of "environmental" psychology grew out of groundbreaking discoveries by Roger Barker in the 1960s showing that a person's behavior is very influenced by where they are. For example, a child will behave differently in a shopping mall, park or dentist's office than they would in a friend's home. According to this study, the places a child occupies can influence their behavior even more than their own personalities. Environment counts! These discoveries have given birth to a new study called "ecological psychology", but classic Feng Shui has been making similar observations such as these for thousands of years.

Traditionally, when you are designing your child's bedroom, it should be bright, spacious and colorful. Areas of bright contrast are attractive and stimulating to children. Color is light energy (reflected from objects) and can affect positive moods. In arranging your child's room, unlike an adult's, you need to create a strong yang (active) area for daytime play that helps stimulate their curiosity. Children are playful all day. Having natural light during daytime hours and brightly colored objects and toys in their play area is ideal, but at night you also need to darken/quiet their room so they can rest and go to sleep. This can be challenging in a bright playroom since you want the bed area especially to be yin/quiet so you don't have an over-active child at nighttime, or a tired child in the morning.

Playtime is great for coordination and learning, but mental stimulation and focus can also be assisted with color from natural views. According to studies conducted by environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, the views seen from windows will--and can--affect one's ability to concentrate. Although gazing out a window suggests distraction, it turns out that views of natural settings, such as a garden or forest, can actually improve focus.

Interestingly enough, children who experienced the greatest increase in "greenness" or ability to see the color green, with either the natural environment or the actual color in some form, had the highest scores on a standard test of attention. "Green" play space may be especially beneficial for children or students with attention deficit disorders. According to researcher William Sullivan, who tested children's ability to concentrate after being exposed to a variety of greenery in the form of video games, or nature activities such as fishing or soccer; the parents reported that their children's ADD symptoms were least severe after they'd been in or observing green spaces. The theory is that the modern world can engender metal fatigue whereas looking out at a natural setting is relatively effortless and can give the mind a much needed rest. It suggests that natural views are more rejuvenating than urban scenes. It gives new meaning to the "Green" movement. This makes sense since we have been exposed, for thousands of years, to the natural brown of the grounding earth, the calming blue of the sky and ocean, and now we realize too that the green of plants can give us a mental rest, help us relax and in turn, help us focus better.

Using nature to boost attention can pay off academically as well. Another study by C. Kenneth Tanner analyzed the performance of more than 10,000 students in Georgia and found that with unrestricted views of at least 50 feet outside the window, including gardens, mountains and other natural elements, the children had higher scores on tests of vocabulary, language arts and math than students without such expansive views.* Makes you want to reconsider using natural environments more-- especially in the hectic and over developed cities, so that we can improve, not only the schools and performance levels of our children, but the environments for us adults too.