Last Child in the Woods

"I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are," reports a fourth grader. But it's not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It's also their parents' fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools' emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes actually making natural play a crime.

As children's connections to nature diminish and the social, psychological, and spiritual implications become apparent, new research shows that nature can offer powerful therapy for such maladies as depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade-point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that childhood experiences in nature stimulate creativity.

In his book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, child-development researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions. Louv shows us an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world more deeply - and find the joy of family connectedness in the process. Most importantly, this book offers positive case studies that support the concepts presented by the author. We highly recommend this book for all early childhood and school teachers, education professionals and parents.

White Hutchinson was recognized by Louv in his book for the help our company offers childcare, school and leisure facilities interested in designing outdoor children's play spaces: discovery play gardens. Louv quoted one of our articles in his book:

"There is a sense of wildness about a discovery play garden. Children's discovery play gardens are very different than landscaped areas designed by adults, many of whom prefer manicured lawns and tidy, neat, orderly, uncluttered landscapes. Discovery play gardens are much looser in design because children value unmanicured places and the adventure and mystery of hiding places and wild, spacious, uneven areas broken by clusters of plants."

Additional reading: