Friday, January 21, 2005


I listen to the Health Report on ABC Radio National when I can and on
Monday there was a repeat of a great programme from Novemebr last year.

The full transcript
Norman Swan was interviewing Dr Reid Lyon from US National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development
on his research into how children learn to read and how this research is being implemented.

Essentially Lyon was saying that:
1, we do not have an inbuilt ability to read it is a learnt skill.

2, children from poor backgrounds are shown in his studies to be at a
disadvantage even before they start to learn to read because they have
had fewer verbal and reading intereactions with their parents and carers
than wealthier children and thus have vastly reduced vocabularies at
4yrs which impares their reading ability at least until it is remedied
through application of effective strategies to expand their interaction
with words, spoken, written and reading itself.

3, What does it take to learn to read?

phonemic awareness - that is the understanding that in an alphabetical
language like English you have 26 letters that correspond to some 44
sounds and the ability to pull those sounds out of the stream of speech

phonics - recognising that each of the letters on the page represent one
or more sounds and being able to pronounce them

fluency - being able to combine the phonemic awareness and phonics with
meaning quickly enough to give fluent reading

vocabulary - the larger the verbal vocabulary is the easier it is to
read the written vocabulary fluently

background/world knowledge - to understand what the vocabulary actually
means within any context

comprehension strategies - linking what you are reading to the context
outside of the document to your own experience or knowledge base

None of the above are sufficient by themselves for reading to occur and
these 6 areas need to be approached sequentially to provide the
predictability needed for retention of the skills.

4. Lyon then goes on to describe how various remedial reading programmes
fail or succeed in correcting deficiencies in children's literacy.

The research they have done has been the first to apply randomised
control trials to various teaching strategies and then assess their
usefulness in various situations.

... I'll finish editing this entry when I have time - hopefully soon -
I'm off to do more work on the Home Ed Conference...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Catching up

Jumping right to the present....

I'm now married with two boys and am 34 wks pregnant with what promises to be a third boy. He will be born at home like the other two, probably in the water tub.

My eldest son is now in his second year of 'official' homeschooling/home education. We use a style of education known variously as unschooling/natural learning. We consider him to have been home educated since birth and we intend to continue in the same vein. For more info on home ed or natural learning go to:

I am currently involved in co-ordinating a Home Ed conference for the Home Based Learning Network (see the links in the left column), which will be held this year on my second son's birthday.

I'm not sure how this blog will evolve - I'm trying to get the email publishing part to work. Bear with me, things can only improve :-)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

In the beginning....

....there was a 14 yr old girl who liked art and SF.... but we've come a long way since then:-)