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Creating Environments that Reduce Children's Stress

by Sony Vasandani
November/December 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/creating-environments-that-reduce-childrens-stress/5022640/

It has long been understood that there is a relationship between children’s behaviour and the physical environment of their classroom. Now researchers have scientific evidence. They have measured the stress levels of children at home and in preschool settings, specifically cortisol levels. Cortisol is a natural hormone that our bodies secrete and it has often been referred to as the 'stress hormone.' Compared to the consistently low and healthy cortisol levels found in children in home settings, the cortisol levels of children in a child care or preschool environment increase throughout the day. It has been ruled out that the increase of the cortisol level has anything to do with the children’s separation from their parents (Dettling et al., 2000). Increasingly, studies indicate that the rise is caused by environmental factors present in the school setting. Further, studies have shown that colour, lighting, sound and noise, temperature, and physical space (both vertical and horizontal) affect children’s stress levels. This, in turn, affects their cognitive development, learning, and behaviour. 

Parents and teachers are well aware of the effect of the immediate environment on a child; this fact is easily observed when teachers and other adults give children their complete ...

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