What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach to Literacy?

Dr. Samuel T. Orton and master teacher Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham Approach to help struggling students learn how to read and spell. Teachers trained in this approach provide direct, sequential and incremental phonetic instruction in small group or one-on-one settings. It is a multisensory approach integrating visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile modalities while methodically and systematically teaching language structure. The Orton-Gillingham Approach provides emotionally sound, supportive, and personalized instruction tailored to each student’s learning needs. While it was designed to help dyslexic students, this approach can be tremendously helpful to all learners!

Is My Child Dyslexic?

Very smart, capable and creative people can be dyslexic. Dyslexia is not a function of low intelligence, but rather it is a language disorder impacting approximately 20 percent of our population. Dyslexia runs in families, so if a parent is dyslexic often a child will be as well. While dyslexics might not be the best spellers, they often have other gifts such as creativity, artistic ability, musical talent, unusual mechanical understanding, or exceptional athleticism, just to name a few.

It can be difficult to know if your child is dyslexic because smart kids are great at covering up their learning struggles. If your child’s written or oral language is not commensurate with their level of intelligence, then you may want to investigate further. Watch for signs of dyslexia if school is difficult or class grades are not an adequate refection of the bright student that you know.

Early intervention is key – indicators of dyslexia may become evident as early as the preschool years. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about oral or written language development. Your child’s teacher can also be a good resource as they have an understanding of what is developmentally typical for the age. A reputable child psychologist can conduct a psychoeducational evaluation, providing assessment and analysis of your child’s cognitive and educational achievement levels. If you suspect that your child is dyslexic, finding an Orton-Gillingham tutor or a multisensory reading program would be helpful. For a list of tutors, clinics or schools that provide intensive O-G instruction visit www.ortonacademy.com.

Helpful Resources

  • Gillingham, Anna, and Bessie W. Stillman. The Gillingham Manual: Remedial Training for Students with Speci c Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship. Cambridge, MA: Educators Pub. Service, 1997
  • Rudginsky, Laura Toby, and Elizabeth C. Haskell. How to Teach Spelling. Cambridge Mass.: Educators Pub. Service, 1984.
  • Van Cleave, William. Everything You Want to Know & Exactly Where to Find It: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic: A Reference Guide for Teachers of Orton-Gillingham Approach. V.C. Educational Consulting, 2008
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