Much of my own parenting philosophy is inspired by Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods.”
Louv writes that modern children don’t have the freedom to play unsupervised in the natural world. This, he claims, has left children less able to concentrate, manage risk, and think critically. Worse still, it has erased from modern kids the magical worldview that defined childhood for many of us.
When I was a kid, I left my house at 8 am, checked in at noon and didn’t return till the moon was shining bright in the dark black sky. I spent my day building tree houses, catching salamanders in the window wells, seeking out the deepest mud puddles and sleeping under the stars with all the neighborhood children. My fondest memories came from unstructured outdoor nature play.
I want my daughter to have similar memories: the mountain top views, the smell of summer rain, and the feel of worms crawling across her palms. So I foster her experiences in nature and allow her to participate in activities that others may find dangerous.
There is something really special about allowing nature to serve as a teaching tool. In this century, I think it’s a really important gesture to unplug kids from technology and let their spirits soar in the mud puddles, in the creeks with crawfish, in chasing and capturing lightning bugs.
It’s important to give them the freedom to explore the thick woods that reflect the pictures in children’s books and participate in adventures that encourage imagination and empowerment.