The Power of Plants to Help Children Focus


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May 04, 2023

The Power of Plants to Help Children Focus

Posted June 7, 2023

Posted June 7, 2023 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster

Our homes are filled with constant distractions. This can make maintaining focus challenging. As our lives become intertwined with technology and artificial environments, we find ourselves longing for a sense of tranquility and mental clarity. Fortunately, the solution may lie in our innate connection to nature. Biophilia refers to the inherent human affinity for the natural world.

Recent studies highlight the profound impact of biophilia on attention restoration and cognitive function. Whether it be a serene forest or a vibrant garden, spending time in nature restores our mental resources. Attention restoration theory (ART) suggests that exposure to natural environments allows for effortless attention, providing a respite from the mental fatigue caused by sustained, directed attention. Engaging with natural elements, such as sunlight, plants, and water features, promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and improves overall well-being.

Biophilic design, an approach incorporating natural elements into the built environment, has gained recognition for its potential to improve attention and overall well-being. This design philosophy integrates features such as living walls, water installations, natural materials, and access to outdoor spaces to create a harmonious and engaging atmosphere. The presence of these elements in indoor spaces stimulates our innate biophilia, fostering a sense of connection with nature. As a result, individuals experience enhanced attentional capacities and improved cognitive function.

Research shows that the placement of natural elements, such as plants indoors exerts a restorative effect on well-being and cognitive performance among adults. In new research published in Buildings, researchers tested the effects of plants on children's desks. In a high-biophilic-design condition, preschool children saw four plants placed on their desks. In a low-biophilic-design condition, children saw no plants on their desks. The children viewed a series of abstract images on a computer screen while their visual attention was measured with an eye tracker. Researchers found that the durations of the children's first fixations were significantly higher in the high-biophilic design than in the low-biophilic design. This study is the first to show the impact of manipulating biophilic design on preschoolers' attention. These findings highlight the importance of integrating elements of nature in schools and at home.

Here are some tips for incorporating biophilic design into the home:

Remember, biophilic design aims to create a nurturing environment that enhances your well-being and reconnects you with nature. Be creative and adapt these tips to your personal style and preferences to create a home embodying biophilia. Try it out and create some calm and better focus.


Fadda R, Congiu S, Roeyers H, Skoler T. Elements of Biophilic Design Increase Visual Attention in Preschoolers. Buildings. 2023; 13(5):1160.

Maximize natural light. Incorporate living greenery. Use natural materials. Create a green wall or vertical garden. Incorporate water features. Optimize natural views. Use natural color palettes. Incorporate natural textures. Create a nature-inspired focal point. Outdoor living spaces.