Using an Orton Gillingham Approach in the Home

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.

(for more information on the Orton Gillingham Approach click here)

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.


About Josh Prieto

Josh has worked for Reading Horizons since April of 2011 and is the Sales & Marketing manager of the Home-Use department. He is strong advocate for homeschool and plans to home educate his own children. You better believe they will all be taught using the Reading Horizons Methodology.

This entry was posted in Dyslexia, Dyslexia Advice Videos, General, Improving Fluency, Improving Reading Skills, Phonics, Raising a Successful Reader, Reading Skills, Struggling Readers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses

  1. Margaret Jovanovich says:

    Hello! I am currently a grandma of an almost 5-year-old boy, a 2-1/2-year-old girl, and 2 more babies to be born this summer! In 1987, when we began to homeschool our 3 daughters, we purchased Discover Intensive Phonics for Yourself (fondly known in our family as “Dipfy”:). I attended a workshop to learn how to use the program and our 2 youngest daughters learned to read very well and became excellent spellers while our older daughter improved in reading and spelling (having attended a local school for 3 years prior to being home-schooled).

    I am we’ll known for keeping/storing almost everything I find useful ~ However, somehow, Dipfy is nowhere to be found:(. I want to use it to teach my grandson and other grandchildren, but I need a refresher in order to do a thorough job! I have searched your website and find mention of being able to learn to use the program as a parent/grandparent, but am unclear as to how to access that. I would LOVE to purchase the instruction materials, but $299 is rather steep at this point in my life.

    I am hoping you can offer some help to allow me to use the “Dipfy” method at home with my grandchildren!

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Josh Josh says:

      Margaret, so sorry for the late reply, but I would love to help you. Our online workshop is a free resource that might be beneficial to you. You can find it here! Also, we have an online software that is $199, if you have any questions or needs please give me a call, I’d love to help! 800-333-0054 x135

  2. Silas E. Acosta says:


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