Orton-Gillingham methods are the gold standard for teaching those who struggle with learning how to read and write. This approach produces the best results when done in a one-on-one setting, three times a week. The student is instructed through a mutli-sensory approach in a direct, explicit methodology that is practiced to automaticity under the guidance of a trained tutor. All lessons are individually developed for a student based on the continually assessment and observations of the tutor.
What is Orton-Gillingham?
Samuel T. Orton (1879-1948), a neurologist, psychiatrist and pathologist, studied both the physiological and educational aspects of what he called “specific reading disability” or dyslexia. He was fascinated with patients who were bright and often had talents in many areas, but struggled with reading and language skills. He became convinced that dyslexia was not a problem of vision or perception but a problem with how the brain processes language. He felt that the cause of this problem is neurological in origin and that the remedy for it is educational. Dr. Orton had two basic principles for teaching these students:
Dr. Orton worked with Anna Gillingham, a remedial teacher, psychologist, and gifted educator, to develop the method that is now called the Orton-Gillingham approach.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach for teaching reading and other language skills is a philosophy rather than a system or curriculum. It includes the following elements:
Multisensory – teaching in a way that includes simultaneous auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), kinesthetic (using large muscles), and tactile (feeling) strategies to optimize learning and retrieval.
Structured – reading and spelling skills are introduced systematically, starting with the simplest skills, directly teaching them, and giving students practice before the next step of a more difficult skill.
Phonetic – directly teaching the phoneme (sounds)/grapheme (letters) relationship of English and teaching spelling along with reading since those skills are mutually supportive.
Language-Based – based on understanding the nature and acquisition of oral language, the language-learning process, and the connection to the print representation of oral language.
Sequential – teaching reading skills in a direct, systematic, orderly way and including: phonemic awareness, letter recognition, concepts of print, sound/symbol relationship, word reading and spelling, syllables, fluency skills, vocabulary, and comprehension.
Cumulative – new skills are tied to a solid base of previously taught skills. As students learn new material they continue to review old material, learning to an automatic level.
Cognitive – students learn the system of rules and generalizations which affect the structure of our language. They may also learn about the logic and history of the English language.
Flexible – The Orton-Gillingham Approach can be used in many different ways. It is appropriate for use with individuals, small groups, in classrooms, and for all ages, from preschool to adult. It can be taught using various materials and it can be adapted to the individual needs of the student.