Last Child in the Woods

Last child in the woods“Natural settings are essential for a healthy child development because they stimulate senses and integrate formal and informal play.”

I just finished reading “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, a birthday present from my parents – and I just have to share this wonderful book with you! Having young children, this book has grown and stretched my outlook on parenting and I highly recommend it to every parent and teacher to read. My short review probably will not do this book justice, but I want to share anyways!

I grew up in a rural setting where gardening, exploring and nature were prevalent parts of my childhood and I’ve always felt this kinship with the natural world. Louv’s research only reaffirms what I’ve always subconsciously known – nature is crucial for healthy child development and offers humans healing, restorative benefits.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Louv coins the non-medical term of “nature deficit disorder” that this generation is suffering from. Children simply do not spend the quality time they once did outdoors. People are searching for answers to why teen suicide and depression and school shootings are on the rise. Why are our children so overweight? Why aren’t our children meeting education standards and testing? Why are more and more children being put on ADHD medication? While these are all complex, multi-faceted issues with no clear-cut answer, Louv provides us with a simple solution to at least offer help – nature.

“The CDC found that the amount of TV that children watch directly correlates with measures of their body fat. In the United States, children ages six to eleven spend about thirty hours a week looking at a TV or computer monitor.”

This book is jammed packed with case studies and research about how important it is for child development to establish a meaningful connection with nature, and the links between a rise in youth depression, ADHD, obesity and screen time with a decrease in the amount of time children spend outdoors exploring nature. We need to unplug our children from modern technology and let them freely explore nature. This free play nurtures creativity, leadership and confidence within kids and build their self-esteems. We owe our children tree houses, building forts, climbing trees, catching fish, learning to garden – simple activities that are being replaced with iPads, video games, television shows and laptops.

“Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life. You’ll likely never see a slick commercial for natural therapy, as you do for the latest antidepressant pharmaceuticals.”

Call to Action

This book isn’t suggesting we all move to Montana and live on a 500-acre farm. But Louv encourages parents and teachers to provide our kids with natural experiences. We are losing an entire generation that doesn’t relate to the earth and could care less where their food comes from, and parents need to make an effort to help their children discover nature.  As a society, we do not value what we cannot name and fewer and fewer children can identify even local animals and plants. Yet they are alienated, bored, and increasingly, heavily medicated so they can function in our urban society.

” Nature inspires creativity in a child by demanding visualization and the full use of the senses.”

This book is a true call to action! I am inspired by Louv’s writing and I’m anxious to read his next book, “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age ”  – another gift from my parents. Those parents of mine…I think they’ve figured something out and I thank them all the time for the childhood they gave me!

Articles & Interviews:

The need to get kids out into nature

Why Kids Need To Play Outdoors

Last child in the Woods – Overview



3 thoughts on “Last Child in the Woods

  1. This post really hit home! I am increasingly loving ecotherapy, and have had a lifelong connection with nature and the outdoors, and outdoor sports. My childhood was full of crazy trauma and I am frequently being told at the moment – as I am healing it all – that it is a miracle I am how I am, and so it has left me wondering how I am like I am, and how I survived my life keeping my sanity in tact…and it is SO down to nature. And the outdoor sports I took part in all those years. I truly believe it is this that got me through, and continues to. I lived every moment I could outdoors, adventuring or being in the water. we didn’t have a tv til I was ten and im so grateful!
    In a nutshell, I just wanted to share your passion and understanding of the importance of nature in a child’s life. It can resource and bring a resilience for the shit to come, in ways that are invaluable. This is a research study I want to do!
    Lots of love. X

    • It truly is amazing the impact the natural world can have on the healing process, particularly for children – the research and studies performed by Ecotherapists confirm this correlation! And that is the problem today’s youth is facing – the lack of quality outdoor time is negatively affecting many medical and educational areas that is causing a national epidemic. I do feel like there is an almost 1960’s-like movement starting to form across the country of people awakening and realizing how troubled our environment is and how important nature is and we are feeling the calling to do something about it. It’s refreshing & exciting to see! I appreciate your thoughts!

      peace & love,

  2. Pingback: Why Does Wilderness Matter? | a simple life

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