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Nature's goodness back on the menu

By Sophie Ryan

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The benefits of immersing young children in nature while they are being introduced to learning is being discussed by professionals from around the world in rural Whangarei.

This weekend, the Natural Education Network is holding the Natural Phenomena for the fourth year in the picturesque setting of the "Wild Woods" on a family property in Kiripaka.

Early childhood educators, scholars, and nature enthusiasts are gathering to promote earning in nature as a key part to young children's lives.

Adventurer, athlete and author Steve Gurney will be speaking about the dangers of "bubble-wrapping" kids, which he wrote about in his book Eating Dirt.

Other speakers include Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere, from Waikaremoana, who has toured internationally delivering lectures on teaching and learning in the Maori tradition.

Canadian nature art teacher Marghanita Hughes and chief executive of an Australian nature play centre, Griffin Longley, will also be attending the event.

Natural Education Network secretary Jane Young said the aim was to combat the commercialisation of early childhood Education centres and bringing children back into parks and fields where they could learn and play in nature.

"Being in nature, sometimes they will fall down and sometimes they'll get hurt but that's life," she said.

Ms Young said 160 people were expected at the event.

The Natural Phenomena will be held on November 22, 23 and 24 at 592 Ngunguru Road, Kiripaka. For more information visit www.natureeducationnetwork.co.nz

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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