Early Education Reform Group EERG

Using play to create a Child-Centered Curriculum in the early years of school.

The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core. David Sobel

You and Your Child – radio programs

A series of 20 minute radio talkback interviews on local Brisbane ABC radio during 1983-84

These cover many topics of direct interest to parents and teachers of young children.-

  • What to expect from your 2yr old, 3yr old and 4 yr old?
    Your child's needs
  • Starting school
  • Readiness for school
  • Play, toys and their environment.

For each talk below, you can play it directly, or download the audio as a podcast

Ready for School? What is school readiness? 1983 9 Sept

Ready for School?

Developmental spread with age

1983 23 Sept

Ready for School?

Emotional readiness

1983 14 Oct

Ready for School?

Confidence in creative activities

1983 28 Oct

Ready for School?

What can parents do?  

1983 11 Nov

Ready for School?

Parent talkback 

1983 29 Nov

Readiness for School

School entry age in 1983 


Ready for School?

More parent talkback 



Your child's development

Basic Intro - How young children develop 

1983 11 March

Your child's needs

Social, emotional, physical and intellectual 

1983 25 March

Your child's needs


1983 8 April

Your child's needs

Love, attention and responses 

1983 13 May

Your child's needs

Difference between Social and Emotional needs 

1983 27 May

Disciplining your child

How to, and some negative impacts 

1983 24 Jun

What to expect from your child

2  yr old 

1983 8 Jul

What to expect from your child

2 - 3 yr old 

1983 22 Jul

What to expect from your child

3 - 4 yr old 

1983 5 aug

What to expect from your child

5  yr old 

1983 19 aug


Your Child - 2 - 3 yr old

Making their environment better 

1984 9 Apr

Your Child - 2 - 3 yr old

Play for children 

1984 18 May

Your Child - 3 - 4 yr old

Toys and learning at home 

1984 19 June

Your Child - Father's role

 Your Child - Father's role  

1984 14 Aug

Your Child -  Outdoor play - and learning

 Your Child -  Outdoor play - and learning  

1984 Oct

Your Child - Pressures in early school years

More parent talkback  

1984 Dec


Starting School

The first day Part I  

1984 28 Jan

Starting School

The first day - Part II  

1990 Feb

Starting school - some problems

 Starting school - some problems  

1985 Jan

Play rather than "teaching"

 Play rather than "teaching"  

1990 Jan 25


Background to EERG Part I

Why EERG was established in 1980  

1980 Nov

Background to EERG Part II Sept 1983

readiness for schools and flexible schoolin 

1983 2 sep

Background to EERG Part III March 1984

Childrens development  

1984 24 Mar

Background to EERG Part IV Aug 1989

flexible child-centred schooling  

1989 Aug 30


Lil G & Des Partridge 1978

Effective Parenting -  S.T.E.P. Parenting course  


Lil G talk on Child Development

EERG Meeting talk on child development   


Lil G Life Membership ECTA



Lil G and Hayden Sargent

4BC radio - how children develop + talkback  


Lil G and Howard Nielsen 1990 ABC Radio

Competitive sport at School?  




During the early years of the Early Education Reform Group, the local ABC contacted the group and asked them to provide a speaker to talk about child development and school readiness.

Lil Gwyther as the Publicity Officer for EERG took on this task, and the first interview was conducted by 612 ABC in January 1983, to coincide with the start of the school year.

The interview had so much feedback from listeners that a regular weekly slot was arranged for Lil to speak on various topics about early childhood.   Most of the sessions were taped on cassette, so the quality of the digitised versions presented here varies somewhat -  but is quite adequate to listen to.

ABC radio presenters Janine Walker and Blair Edmunds conducted most of the interviews.

Lil Gwyther’s passion for, and delight in young children was evident to all. Right from her very early years growing up on a dairy farm on the Comboyne Plateau in New South Wales, Lil wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from Armidale Teachers College in 1934 she spent five years teaching in country New South Wales and then taught during the war years at Canonbury Hospital School in Sydney. After a whirlwind wartime romance, Lil married Evan an Air Force radio operator and fellow teacher. In 1946 they moved to live in Brisbane. Lil returned to teaching at Ashgrove West Kindergarten and subsequently became Director, spending a total of 20 years there.

During these years Lil supported and encouraged involvement of parents in kindergarten affairs as well as developing a passionate commitment to the continued well-being of the young charges. She saw and heard first hand of the damage to some youngsters when they move to primary school where they had to perform tasks for which they were not ready. She firmly believed that this was the cause of many behavioural and learning problems in later school years.

This passion and concern led her to take up work in the Queensland Education Department with Margaret Outridge, firstly developing a new screening survey for children entering school, and then visiting a wide range of primary schools as an early childhood advisory teacher. Under the regulations current at that time she had to retire in 1980 very much against her will.

Lil’s years of practical experience followed by concentrated study of early childhood educational theories and approaches during her work in the Education Department left her very committed to changing early childhood practices in Queensland schools. Along with some other concerned teachers and parents she helped to establish the early education reform group EERG in 1980. EERG publicly campaigned for at least the first few years of primary school to be ungraded so that individual readiness would be the determining factor for selection of learning material and teacher expectation. They advocated child-centred and developmentally appropriate education. They regularly assisted teachers who were implementing these approaches in the classroom. Lil often used to say: don’t ask if your child is ready for school-ask if the school is ready for your child. The group was active until the late 1990s and was highly successful in achieving media interest in the campaign as well as support from the wide circle of parents, educators and politicians.

As Public Relations Officer for EERG for over 15 years Lil talked at literally hundreds of local parents and teachers meetings in preschools, playgroups, Schools etc. In 1983 she joined with a group of educators and parents to establish the Pine Community School, which has continued to operate for more than 25 years and continues to attract families with its commitment to child-centred schooling. Her work with teachers and principles helped to build the enthusiasm that lead to the multi-age Association of Queensland.

In 2001 Lil was awarded life membership of the Early Childhood Teachers Association for her treasured wisdom and lifelong advocacy for good practices in early education. www.ecta.org.au /01_cms/details.asp?ID=206. She also spent 10 years serving on the Children’s Services Council of C&K. Lil’s firm conviction of the importance of play- based early childhood education lead her to advocate through the Early Education Reform Group for a return to play-based prep year in Queensland schools in addition to the preschool year, so that children would be 12 months older when they started year one. The EERG campaign centred around a Prep year classroom designed for play based learning, small classes and full time early childhood training aides.

Lil and her colleagues in the Early Education Reform Group have left an inspiring legacy for all those of us who now work to ensure that children’s early education is firmly centred on the needs of these children and is appropriate to their development during the early years of schooling and most importantly in their Prep classes.
To read more about Lil, please see the QUT pdf article lil-gwyther-story.

Lil's legacy:

  • A memorial award for outstanding students studying Early Childhood Education at the Queensland University of Technology, October 2011.
  • The Lil Gwyther Memorial Endowment Fund.
  • Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, The Lil Gwyther Memorial Endowment Fund was established in 2010 as a perpetual fund to finance an annual prize awarded to an undergraduate student in QUT’s School of Early Childhood Education who demonstrates: in-depth knowledge of early childhood education principles and a good understanding of developmentally appropriate, child-centered teaching practices and outstanding competency in using these principles when teaching young children in a school setting.

Via this letter, we are delighted to introduce you to Anne-Marie Hansen, the inaugural prize recipient. 

Thank you for your support. My mother would have been so honoured by the overwhelmingly positive response to the establishment of her memorial fund.

On behalf of Sheryl, David and myself, thank you for your support.
Donations to the fund will help us reach our goal of offering the Lil Gwyther award to QUT students in perpetuity.
Ross Gwyther.

The Lil Gwyther Memorial Endowment Fund

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends, The Lil Gwyther Memorial Endowment Fund was established in 2010 as a perpetual fund to finance an annual prize awarded to an undergraduate student in QUT’s School of Early Childhood Education who demonstrates:

   * in-depth knowledge of early childhood education principles and

   * a good understanding of developmentally appropriate, child-centered teaching practices and

   * outstanding competency in using these principles when teaching young children in a school setting.

The inaugural prize recipient was Anne-Marie Hansen.

Since then, there have been 6 more recent recipents:

   Irene McCarthy

   Jemma Rainbow

   Jess Donovan

   Jason Wilson

   Michelle Ward

For the latest award recipient event, for Anna Wareham, see Lil Gwyther Award Recipients

For more information on the  Lil Gwyther Award for an outstanding undergraduate student at QUT’s School of Early Childhood, see :  The Lil Gwyther Memorial Award at QUT


Documents about the EERG philosophy

  • Curriculum - It's Cramping My Style : A paper presented by Lil Gwyther and Noelene McBride at a Qld Curriculum Conference in 1990 at Griffith University.   Published in the Conference Papers, entitled Critical perspectives on  students as human capital and a curriculum for social justice : proceedings of a conference on Curriculum Directions for the 1990's held at Griffith University on 27-29 June 1990.
  • Unravelling the Mysteries of Multi-Age Grouping: A booklet produced by EERG in 1987.
  • Providing Challenging Learning Environments : A paper presented by Jane Hogben at the Multiage - Why & How Conference, in Brisbane 1995.
  • Family Grouping : A short flyer from the Tsmanian Education Dept about the benefits of family grouping (or multi-age schooling).

Leaflets produced by EERG

  • Diary of a Child's Thoughts : A widely popular short story on the contradictions between children's needs and the pressures of a rigid schooling system, with illustrations by cartoonist Alan Moir. Was widely reproduced in other publications.
  • Getting Started : Some thoughts and practical suggestions for parents when their child is starting school. 
  • Coming Ready or Not: A discussion of the developmental stages as children grow - and how these should be accomodated by a flexible schooling system. 
  • Are You Deciding on your child's school?: Some matters worth considering by new parents looking for a school which is based on a child-centred approach to learning. 
  • Has your child been graded yet: A leaflet by the Tasmanian Education Department which highlights the very variable rates at which children develop.

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