Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Last Child in the Woods

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
What started out as a reading list for homeschooling has evolved into a great read for most any parent, homeschooling or not. Our most recent discovery is Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.

last child in the woods

Even without the endorsement of Scientific American, countless reviewers, and seasoned child develop experts Richard Louv's national bestseller and 2008 Audubon Medal winner is a must read for all parents, truly.

Parker Monkey

In our tenure as parent we've innately relied on 'getting outside' as our get out of jail card when everything unravels. Temperament changes and the the kids return to baseline. Wandering or hiking and not being corralled is something we require when choosing vacations or even just family activities.

Frankly it's selfish parenting. We want to do what is easy and what flows the most with our family. Now, as the kids get older we have been so thankful for this practice. For our children love and appreciate nature and feel a deep connection, even if we don't live in a forest. It's become part of who they are.

Anna monkey

And as it turns out, studies (cited and reviewed in Louv's book) show that connecting with nature, frequently and intentionally, is essential for healthy physical and emotional development. Louv ponders the links of a not-so-coincidental rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression with a lack of nature in these same kids' lives. He opens his book with:

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover,
and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter,
and the mare's foal and the cow's calf....
~ Walt Whitman

I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are.
~ A fourth grader in San Diego

Last Child in the Woods is an excellent summer read and should be on your shelf of return-to resources. It's another reminder of how some of the most simple and fundamental elements can be the most neglected in the name of alleged progress.


jora said...

That is a popular book with the Waldorf community. One of the big things with Waldorf schools is the kids have recess everyday, rain, snow, sleet, whatever. Kids are outside all the time. "Kindergarten" started in a garden after all.....

p.s. you'd probably really like the recommended reading list from C-Man's school!

rakster said...

I'm really enjoying reading it and it has brought home in succinct and with an evidence-based approach a lot of the values and activities I hope to expose our children too.

I will now have a better arsenal of reasoned arguments to back up my approach when met by naysayers.