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Old 07-11-2009, 12:05 PM   #1
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Default Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Louv)

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv, Amazon.com: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder: Richard Louv: Books
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One of the reviews at Amazon stated, "unplug your kids - this book will convince you".
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Another review stated, "An intriguing and thought-provoking work about our failures as parents, educators, and community planners to provide opportunities for unfettered nature play to our children, and the consequences of this oversight. According to Louv, in "Last Child in the Woods," the lack of opportunities for unstructured nature play, the decline of close-to-home open space, and the rise in programmed sporting activities are all contributing to a condition he labels "Nature Deficit Disorder." Although going to great pains to point out that this is not an identified medical disorder, it remains Louv's hypothesis that the modern disconnect between children and nature can and is to be blamed as a contributing factor to ADHD, obesity, lack of creativity, a loss of respect for nature and the living world, and a number of other social ills. Backed by lots of fascinating interviews, anecdotes, and research, Louv lays out a compelling argument for changing some modern social arrangements (educators, lawyers, and over-protective parents take a few lumps here) and letting today's children play the way we played as children: set them free in the outdoors, and let their imaginations do the work that we too often allow computer games and TV to do for them. Although the book drags a little the last 40 pages or so, it's only because Louv has already won you over to his argument."
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There is no substitute for hands on experiences. Our children are definitely disconnected from the natural world... and so might I add are we. The Crocodile Hunter, Bill Nye, and even National Geographic have taken a toll on our children as they sit in front of boob tubes transfixed. Anyone remember the early video game 'Frogger'? Our kids would have played that game until their eyeballs fell out of their heads if we had allowed it. This was a clue it was time for the cartridge to have an accident so the kids would go outside and chase real frogs and this book hadn't even been written back then. We, as parents and educators, are failing our children miserably by not recognizing warning signs of deprivation. I'm as guilty as the next. Shaking the Jewish mother syndrome can be hard in a world where bad things happen to kids. The over protectiveness isn't healthy for them and it isn't healthy for us. I let some of my fears take over and this should have never been allowed to happen. Over scheduling our kids into "safe" activities didn't provide them with the opportunity to have down time they needed dragging a stick along a fence line or skipping pebbles across water. Then technology began to seep into every crack of our lives and it needed to stop. This book validated for me all the reasons why we backed ours off from so many organized activities, severely restricted their tv time, and why I kicked the kids out the back door routinely going out with them myself when they were younger. "Get out and stay out" is what I would tell them. I even made a joke of it and playfully ushered them out with brooms. Kids belong outside in inclement weather. They don't melt in rain you know and neither do we... go with them.
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Old 07-11-2009, 02:37 PM   #2
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Thanks, Equil, that's lovely. I thought his main idea was great, though the book was a bit repetitive.
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"Outside Play Every Day"... healthy for the kids and saves the parent's sanity.
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Old 07-11-2009, 03:34 PM   #3
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I am waiting for this book to arrive, but it sounds like the basic premise of the book is what I am already convinced of: The real dangers to our nation come from obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, junkfood, too much tv, and video games which are all part of the system that ends with cardivasular disease and stroke and these are increasing amongst the under 35 crowd. Although going outside or foriegn terrorists may occasionally be dangerous, staying inside and worrying is always dangerous and is the real killer we should fear. We've been told of so many outrageous dangers that happen to .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the population and heard of the extreme so often that most of us have no idea what's really risky and what isn't.
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:06 PM   #4
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As a parent, I do think there are real dangers out there now that weren't there when I grew up. Here's why-- in the 1970s more people were routinely outside, so there were simply more eyes around to notice things. Today in most neighborhoods it's a ghost town after school, and if your kid is playing outside, then he's the only one. There's no herd to give him safety in numbers anymore! There isn't even anyone to notice if your kid falls out of a tree. People drive home from work-- the garage door goes up, the garage door goes down.

One point this book made was that kids know more about the rain forest ecosystem than their local ecosystems. Ideally, kids should be familiar with both.

Who will "speak for the trees" in 30 years, if kids today don't even know which trees are out there? Environmental awareness starts in childhood and stays with a person throughout life. How will our future leaders notice things are changing unless they experience the way things are today?
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Old 07-11-2009, 09:29 PM   #5
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His book was a little redundant. I tend to skip over areas that become repetitive. When we grew up... there were herds as you described. There aren't any more. Too many latch key kids. The other thing is that when we grew up parents weren't afraid to correct another parent's child if they saw them doing something inappropriate or potentially injurious to themselves. Around larger cities... you correct somebody's precious darling and you're likely to have a process server at your door. I can't help myself and would have difficulty sleeping at night if I didn't say something to a kid in imminent danger so I will say something. I'm in the minority. The few times another parent took the risk of correcting one of our boys, I always made it a point to thank them. I don't have eyes in the back of my head and there was only one of me. I wasn't a perfect parent...
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:06 PM   #6
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It's very difficult today to give children freedom to explore outdoors, but still be nearby to keep them safe. Most people don't have either the right place (such as a house with a safe wild area nearby-- I had one, did you?) or the time/willingness to be outside with their kids.

Also kids are pressured to achieve from a very young age. Kids are in structured, supervised activities after school. There's no time to waste in just goofing around!
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:35 PM   #7
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We had wild areas. We lived in the middle of a wild area. The fort I had is still standing complete with the writing on the walls from me and my playmates. We moved to the city and there were no wild areas but there was a creek that ran through our subdivision and a big open field across the road. We ran around in that. This was over 40 years ago. The field is now a strip mall. That's what happens. Almost every large city has parks and natural areas where kids can run. Even if development has sucked up the land, we still have options to let our kids be kids.
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Old 07-14-2009, 02:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
Almost every large city has parks and natural areas where kids can run.
Sure, if the adults have time to take them and watch over them. No way would I let my kids hang around a city park unsupervised.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:44 AM   #9
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I'm not saying I would have left my kids unsupervised anywhere. I had one take off on me at a department store and he ended up in a harness with a leash attached to my wrist after that incident. Wanna talk about having your heart stop? He had been there by my side seconds before he disappeared. I was convinced someone had stolen my kid. They closed the store down and called the police and I didn't care. He was found standing on the supports inside a circular clothing rack that I crawled by on my hands and knees trying to spot his feet. We had a park close by that we walked to a few times a week. There was another park about a mile down the road that was heavily wooded and by a ravine. I would sit and talk to other moms while the kids ran around. We all kept an eye out for each other's kids. We bundled our kids up and went to the park when it snowed. Our kids remember the park well. We still have some of the rocks they brought home and a snake skin. Treasures from their past.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:56 PM   #10
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Didn't mean to imply that you would have let your kids wander unsupervised-- I was trying to imply that parks seem to attract unsavory characters. At one of my kids' favorite parks, the police ran a sting operation and arrested a group who were using the men's restrooms for assignations. The restrooms were truly icky, so it defies imagination why they picked there, but anyway...



I once lost a child in the circular clothing racks too! I think the crossbars make a platform that is irresistible to little ones, and if they are quiet and hunker down they are invisible.
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