Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has been the inspiration for a new program I am developing for my school.
Maria Montessori understood the importance of the natural world's influence on child development and its impact on learning. Current research suggests that "the [growing] disconnection from nature...has enormous implications for human health and child development" (Louv, 2005, p. 43). Studies also show however, that early experiences in nature can enhance development of imagination, build concentration, attentiveness, critical thinking, and decision-making skills.
During my Montessori training several years ago, I was fortunate to learn about an exciting outdoor education program called Beyond the Walls. Headed by an inspiring individual who is passionate about providing children varied opportunities to explore nature, this type of program is one that I have always thought about starting since that time during my training. Having finished Louv's book, I am determined now more than ever to begin our own version of Beyond the Walls at Dirigo Montessori School. I plan to do a bit more research as to how to best implement the program and am looking forward to spending more time learning outdoors, 'beyond the walls' of our classroom!
Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.