Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature


Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are reports a fourth grader Never before in history have children been so plugged in—and so out of touch with the natural world In this groundbreaking new work child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends such as rises in obesity Attention Deficit Disorder ADD and depression Some startling facts By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970 Today average eight year olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species such as beetles and oak trees in their own community The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind Nature deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature This alienation damages children and shapes adults families and communities There are solutions though and they're right in our own backyards Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development—physical emotional and spiritual What's nature is a potent therapy for depression obesity and ADD Environment based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving critical thinking and decision making Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature Yet sending kids outside to play is increasingly difficult Computers television and video games compete for their time of course but it's also our fears of traffic strangers even virus carrying mosuitoes—fears the media exploit—that keep children indoors Meanwhile schools assign and homework and there is less and less access to natural areas Parents have the power to ensure that their daughter or son will not be the last child in the woods and this book is the first step toward that nature child reunion


10 thoughts on “Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder

  1. Skylar Burris Skylar Burris says:

    This is typical sentence from Last Child in the Woods he offered no academic studies to support his theory; nonetheless his statement rang true That about sums up this book it's not empirical but nonetheless it rings true' or less Louv draws his conclusions far too widely and gives too much credit to what nature will do for kids but the general idea rings true Kids should play in nature ' not because as Louv uestionably implies it will cure ADHD make them better athletes increase their math and language test scores prevent depression or guarantee great creativity ' but because it's fun it's freeing it's healthy and they're kids and that's what kids have done for centuriesThe author takes an unfocused and largely anecdotal approach to supporting his argument that playing in nature makes kids better off in a myriad ways He dubs the results of modern lack of contact with nature nature deficit disorder He cites some studies but often ignores the maxim that correlation does not necessarily imply causation A typical support goes something like this look at all these creative people They used to play in nature as kids Playing in nature must make people creative It's rather like picking the most creative people of the current youngest generation and saying ' look at all these creative people They used to surf the internet as kids Surfing the internet must have made them creativeIt makes sense however that nature would have a calming effect on kids; that balancing on fallen trees as you cross the creek would build coordination that spending time imbibing the wonders of the great Creator would inspire human creativity And I join in a feeling of sadness for a world that is largely gone; I want my children to have the childhood I had spending hours after school exploring the creek with friends building forts from scratch in the woods catching waterbus and tadpoles and butterflies digging pits in the earth and engaging in neighborhood wide week long war strategy games from patch of woods to patch of woods I don't necessarily agree with all of his solutions and I don't think he realizes how large a share of the problem is owing to private familial choice and not external circumstances but I dearly want my kids to play in natureLouv has ideas for improving the problem but as is true of most people making public policy proposals he doesn't really consider the cost or practicality of implementing them And ultimately it isn't schools or poor city planners that keep kids from nature it's family culture And he does mention this the overscheduling the fear of allowing children to wander off on their own to explore and the permissive use of electronic entertainment But roaming freely in packs from school until dinner time is the way children have always explored nature so until you change that private family culture of fear structure scheduling and plugging in no amount of city planning or tinkering with the public school curriculum is going to address the problem of nature deficit disorder This is why I think this is much a private family issue than a public policy issue and while I think this book is a good kick in the pants to parents including me it's not necessarily a good springboard for policy making being based almost entirely on emotion rather than reason and lacking sufficient empirical verification of the claimed benefits of free play in nature or evidence that the particular policies he supports really would sufficiently increase free play in natureThe truth is ' nature is still there Development has made the areas smaller but they're there The very same creek I explored as a child is right where I left it The uestion is ' are we individual parents going to allow our kids to explore it on their own and encourage them to? Or are we going to say I want you home after school in your room studying until basketballfootballpianoband practice? Even the author of this book doesn't let his kids explore the canyon behind his own backyard without taking their cell phones and he has taught them to be appalled by huntingSome uestions I wished he'd addressed better or at all1 How much of our perception of the problem might be connected to mere romantic nostalgic longing for our own pasts? I was not born into a world of personal computers though I got my first in 4th grade or of the Internet which I didn't use until college; the world has changed irrevocably and there is difference between the childhood lifestyle of my children's generation and my own generation than there was between the childhood of me and my parents or even me and my grandparents The talents the future world will demand will be different; we have to acknowledge this and prepare our kids for it2 How much of it is that nature has a calming effect on children and how much is it that in open spaces adults are tolerant of children acting like children? 3 I want my kids to explore nature on their own but I did this with friends as a kid because this is what kids did Now how will my children make and maintain friends spending most of their time doing things most other kids simply aren't doing?


  2. Nicole Johns Nicole Johns says:

    I would give this a 35 rating if I was allowed After that caveat I have to say that overall this book left me feeling sad a little hopeless nostalgic grateful and angry I had a childhood spent outside; in the fields and woods behind our house and on camping and fishing trips with my Dad I know how formative these experiences were to my personality spirituality politics and attitude about so many things I have always pictured my children having a similarly intimate relationship with the natural world But after reading this book I realize that for the most part that ideal world where children run free in fields vacant lots and woods all over America is no We have killed it with fear legislation litigation and sprawl We have removed the natural world from our classrooms to make room for science and environmental education that alienates our young people from their own habitat both local and global We have taken the children out of the world and have only caused them harm because of it You have to read the book to really get the myriad ways we have disadvantaged our children spiritually psychologically intellectually and physically by bringing them inside in front of screens Louv goes into great detail about all the ways this has happened in schools neighborhoods parks backyards etc I skimmed some parts because I couldn't really make myself care But he also gives concrete and reasonable examples of people and programs helping children know and love nature Personal stories about childhoods spent in nature also weave the different topics and sections together The mix of personal stories and journalism give the book a heart where it might just have been dull and overwhelmingA book to be read by everyone who cares about children and the future of our world So that should be everyone


  3. Keith Keith says:

    With its heart in the right place this book needs an editor it reads like a rambling book length review article I don't dispute the message and there were nuggets of interest how do we allow for rambunctious play that doesn't hurt habitat? However if I were against this or didn't believe the premise I don't think Louv would have changed my mind He doesn't makes a strong argument the evidence is circumstantial and sentimental just a long one You don't need to read this book to know we all need to be outside and engaged observing resting or playing


  4. Nell Nell says:

    The idea that struck me the most is that it is not just good for children to be outside in the grass in the trees in the creeks wandering and unstructured it is vital as necessary every day as is food water and sleep The accounts of how disconnected today's society has become from nature were dispiriting although there were also many examples of communities and schools striving to reconnect children to the natural world I also enjoyed the arguments against several things that drive me nuts over scheduled children housing association rulescity codes that discourage free use of public green areas schools that are cutting back on recess and kids that are kept inside because of parents' fear of predators or the idea that nature is dangerous or whatever And of course there's the whole subject of ADD which I won't even get started on Several of the studies the author referred to showed a marked improvement in concentration centered ness etc amongst people that had been outdoors or even just exposed to views of trees and growing things Fascinating stuff


  5. Audrey Audrey says:

    This book has been criticized because it doesn't really offer empirical evidence but I think for those of us who spent time wandering the woods we had 40 acres that I knew like the back of my hand as kids we know what a gift that outdoor time can be for kids That's why this book is a must read for parents and educators I think to remind us of what's out there and possible and what we've forgotten It may be that nature therapy can work as a form of behavior therapy for ADHD kids and that's fine But the point that's most important here is that there's a huge world out there that our kids should be experiencing first hand whenever possible rather than through a computer screen


  6. Betsy Betsy says:

    Rarely do I uit a book but I did so with this one I get what Louv is saying it would be fair to say he is preaching to the choir I appreciate the real and rugged outdoors as well as unstructured outdoor play for children I guess I'd rather read something that challenges my perspective Unfortunately that was not what forced me to put this book down If the babyboomers that is the author's generationspent so much wonderful time running around in the undeveloped landscape how did they grow up to be the business people that took these lands away from their own children for the sake of profit? How is it that they have lead our country to be the world's most wasteful and polluting nation in the world? What did running around like Huck Finn do for them? Yes kids need to be outside using their imagination and engaging with nature But they also need to be raised to be mindful and conscientious citizens Letting them run around outside will not work wonders on it's own as Louv and his generation have so tragically proven


  7. Tim Tim says:

    What a significant piece of literature At first glance and even through the first chapter one could confuse Louv for an overaggressive hippie whose soul purpose is to let mankind wander barefoot while living solely off fruits and berries Instead however Louv has masterfully woven together monster topics such as parenthood education diet relationships and even religion all in one book This book should be read by all human beings and I do not mean that in a hyperbolic way At the very least it's a must read for parents and teachers Louv's research is exhaustive in every single area and no aspect of our society goes untouched With so much information packed into one book though it makes me wonder if the book would be better served as 3 4 different shorter worksI rarely make time for books that are not fiction but Last Child in the Woods is making me reconsider this approach This has made me think differently about how I raise my children teach my students feed myself and my family and my relationship with God


  8. Patrick Henry Patrick Henry says:

    Yes how true I found myself agreeing with the author' illustrations time and again For my part I would never challenge his premise is that kids belong outside But if someone was skeptical they would not find Mr Louv providing the evidence to be convincing But who cares? He is right How our culture of coddling has drained childhood of the thrills and risk of exploring and discovery I realize even now all the adventure I found in the ravine behind our rental house and am richer for it Wish that for every generation


  9. Becca Becca says:

    This was another book that is based on a great idea that I believe in but didn't hold my interest I felt like the author kept leading me along implying that there was something interesting or substantial coming ahead but it never arrived at least not in the first half of the book The book talks about how children don't have unstructured outdoor playtime any and what impact that may have on them The author explores many different aspects of this but everything in the book was anecdotal and I often felt that the uotes and stories were a bit of a stretch to make them apply to his cause He states over and over again that there just isn't any scientific data out there on what impact playing in nature has on us Then he proceeds to try and imply what impact it has through literary uotes and anecdotes I really found myself yearning for him to tell us what scientific data there isthere must be at least someinstead of uoting yet another literary work that mentions nature I was disappointedI didn't finish the book I made it about 7 chapters in and then started skimming ahead to the interesting sounding headings Then I had to return it to the library


  10. Debbie Debbie says:

    Charlotte Mason got it right Children need the outdoorsIt turns out the outdoors also need children Richard Louv points out the incongruity behind the environmental extremists who want to set aside nature without allowing mankind to interfere and the fact that our children aren't experiencing nature first hand since they aren't getting the chance to play live and explore the outdoors unencumbered by interfering adults This he says results in children who have no love for nature and thus no need to protect it One of the many examples he gives is of a young John Muir who spent his childhood shooting his toy gun at seagulls on the beach How many naturalists would allow such a thing today? Yet it is precisely this sort of destructive play like digging holes building tree houses and killing bugs that give children a love of the outdoors and a love for natureI confess to being guilty of the fear of the outdoors he sees as one of the problems facing children today I'm afraid to let my kids wander off unaccompanied by adults to explore the woods But I want them to experience it and have deep and lasting memories of a childhood spent with nature


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