Lana's Reviews > Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
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Aug 14, 2012

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

The idea behind this book is that it is essential to kids' academic, social, emotional, and physical development to have unstructured time outside in nature. One part of the book stated that the vast majority of people of my generation would answer with someplace outdoors if asked "What are the significant places of your childhood?" while fewer than 10% of children under 20 currently would do so. I asked my kids and they all talked about places where family and outdoors were linked: our back yard, Wilson Canyon and Sun Valley, ID.

Quotes from the book I liked (mostly for my own notes so I can find them again as I don't have my own copy to underline):

p. 35: "One U.S. researcher suggests that a generation of children is not only being raised indoors, but is being confined to even smaller spaces. Jane Clark . . .calls them "containerized kids"--they spend more and more time in car seats, high chairs, and even baby seats watching TV. When small children do go outside, they're often places in containers--stroller--and pushed by walking or jogging parents."

p. 35: "As the nature deficit grows, another emerging body of scientific evidence indicates that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health. For example, new studies suggest that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of ADD and that it can improve all children's cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression."

p. 37: "Those that contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." --Rachel Carson

p. 46 "The physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play is more varied and less time-bound than is found in organized sports. Playtime--especially unstructured, imaginative, exploratory play--is increasingly recognized as an essential component of wholesome child development."

p. 46 "The studies compared preschool children who played every day on typically flat playgrounds to children who played for the same amount of time among the trees, rocks, and uneven ground of natural play areas. Over a year's time, the children who played in natural areas tested better for motor fitness, especially in balance and agility."

p.103 "the boy was hyperactive,he had been kicked out of school and his parents didn't know what to do with him--but they had observed how nature engaged and soothed him. So for years they took their son to beaches, forest, dunes, and rivers to let nature do its work. . .The boy was Ansel Adams."

p. 116 "We need to find a better balance between organized activities, the pace of our children's lives, and their experiences in nature."

p. 120 As pressures on parents are increasing, " 'Even parents who wish to take a lower-key approach to child rearing fear slowing down when they perceive everyone else is on the fast track.' . . .These forces seem especially difficult to resist . . .Bottom line: we want to do what's best for our children. If working more helps us do that, so be it. If enrolling Suzie in Suzuki violin lessons develops her musical capabilities and self-discipline, so be it. . . .TIME IN NATURE IS NOT LEISURE TIME, IT'S AN ESSENTIAL INVESTMENT IN OUR CHILDREN'S HEALTH (AND BY THE WAY, OUR OWN)."

p.151 "free play in nature is far more effective than mandatory, adult-organized activities."

p. 207 "The Roundtable worked with 150 schools in 16 states for 10 years identifying model environment-based programs [ecosystem of river, city park, garden, etc. within campus and curriculum/schedules using it] and examining how students fared on standardized tests. The findings are stunning: environment-based education produces student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math; improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages; and develops skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making."
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