Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Child in the Woods

I've pretty much taken care of babies in some arena for most of my life. I was six when my sister was born and didn't really stop after that. In that time I noticed that an infant will (99% of the time) calm down when brought outside and that really fascinated me. As a kid we were forced to play outside all of the time. "Be home by the time the street light comes on.", was a rule that everyone in my house was well aware of, and my sister and I were seldom home before then. My 16 month old loves to play outside and if I let him choose outside or inside he will always choose out (he'll even bring me his shoes if it means he gets to go out).

But, a scary thing is happening in America today. Unlike most of our childhoods, children today spend most of their time indoors and it is effecting them in big ways. As a science teacher I found it sometimes hard to get kids to connect with their surroundings. I taught in South Knoxville and I'll never forget the first time I brought a group of kids to the Smokies for a field trip. Some of them had never been! It absolutely shocked me that they had a National Park as their back yard and they had never been there.

I believe this book is a must read for anyone who interacts with children. It reminds us of where we came from (the "go out and play" generations) and how are children are being raised (hours of TV, computers, video games everyday). The book makes a case for how important it is for our children to be aware of, and be taught to enjoy, nature and the outdoors. Research shows that, "thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can... be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorder and other maladies." The author 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 the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression."

One of the reasons I absolutely love this book is because is not only does Louv do a good job at describing the problem and the symptoms of nature-deficit, he also gives parents and teachers tangible actions we can take to increase our children's appreciation of nature. The action points that he lays down in this book are part of the reason I am reccomending it as a "must have" to all parents.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

This IS a great book! All parents and teachers (and school administrators) should read it.


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