If you have a child who struggles with reading you will do everything you can to understand the reasons for your child’s difficulties.  You have seen your child’s frustration and have suffered alongside them as you yourself struggle to understand how to help them. In your quest to find answers you start to research the difficulties your child faces and begin to understand their disadvantage in reading (dyslexia, autism, audio processing disorders, etc.). That research gives you a better understanding and sooner or later you find that your child needs a certain type of instruction. That instruction, one way or another, has the underlining principles of an Orton-Gillingham approach.

In this post I want to give you a better understanding of what an Orton Gillingham Approach is and how to implement it into your instruction at home.

What is an Orton-Gillingham Approach?

The approach was created because of research done in 1920s by two individuals, Samuel Torrey Orton and Anna Gillingham, who largely studied reading failure and language processing difficulties. In their research they found eight key instructional principles that helped a struggling reader become successful.

What Orton and Gillingham found was that instruction for a struggling reader must be:

  • Language-Based The Orton-Gillingham approach is based on a technique of studying and teaching language, understanding the nature of human language, the mechanisms involved in learning, and the language-learning processes in individuals.
  • Multisensory Orton-Gillingham teaching sessions are action oriented with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements reinforcing each other for optimal learning. The student learns spelling simultaneously with reading.
  • Structured, Sequential, Cumulative The Orton-Gillingham teacher introduces the elements of the language systematically. Students begin by reading and writing sounds in isolation. Then they blend the sounds into syllables and words. Students learn the elements of language, e.g., consonants, vowels, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs, in an orderly fashion. They then proceed to advanced structural elements such as syllable types, roots, and affixes. As students learn new material, they continue to review old material to the level of automaticity. The teacher addresses vocabulary, sentence structure, composition, and reading comprehension in a similar structured, sequential, and cumulative manner.
  • Cognitive When using the Orton-Gillingham approach, students learn about the history of the English language and study the many generalizations and rules that govern its structure. They also learn how best they can learn and apply the language knowledge necessary for achieving reading and writing competencies.
  • Flexible At best, Orton-Gillingham teaching is diagnostic-prescriptive in nature. Always the teacher seeks to understand how an individual learns and to devise appropriate teaching reading strategies.
  • Emotionally Sound In every lesson, the student experiences a high degree of success and gains confidence as well as skill. Learning becomes a rewarding and happy experience.

How do you use the Orton-Gillingham Method in your own home instruction?

Recently Shantell Barrett and I created a webinar series called, “The Parents Guide to Teaching Reading” helping parents use these principles in their reading instruction. It is based on the Reading Horizons curriculum, but if understood, the overall framework can be used in the home without purchasing materials or software. I’d love for you to go through this webinar series and gain the knowledge to teach your struggling reader using a proven and effective system. Once you’ve gone through this webinar series and have begun to apply it in your home we have another free resource to help you retain the knowledge you’ve learned. It is called our Parent Phonics Training Online Workshop and it is an interactive learning tool to refresh any of the skills you’ve learned during the webinar series. I hope you have found this post helpful. If you have any questions or would like to know more about a particular topic discussed here please leave a comment or reach out to me through email.