What To Know About the Orton-Gillingham Approach

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Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities in the world. Over 20% of the world’s population is affected by dyslexia in some form.

If you have a child with dyslexia, you will know that they have certain limitations and need special care. While they are more than capable of achieving success in learning, their reading, writing, and linguistic skills need nurturing in a specific way.

That’s where the Orton-Gillingham approach comes in. This teaching strategy was developed for those with dyslexia to improve their reading through a multisensory approach.

Do you want to learn how to use this famous approach for your little one? Keep reading about this topic.

What Is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

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Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham developed this practice. Their thoughts focused on a directed, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive approach. It is commonly used for dyslexia, as reading, writing, and spelling do not come easily to dyslexic individuals.

This highly structured approach aids readers by helping them make connections between letters and sounds. Words are understood by breaking them down into more minor skills involving letters than sounds. These skills build up over time.

This approach also utilizes various senses to help students make the language connection. Sight, touch, movement, and sound are all used to aid struggling readers improve their learning.

What Is the Orton-Gillingham Focus?

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Orton-Gillingham practices and content stem from two primary sources:

  1. Theory and practice that tested for over 80 years
  2. Scientific populations about how individuals learn to read and write

This unique approach bases itself on neuropsychiatric, psychology, linguistics, and education.

It is typically used in a one-on-one learning scenario, i.e., one teacher for every student. The approach helps in developing reading, writing, and spelling skills. But it has also remained adaptable for progress in mathematics and logic.

Pathways help students overcome their learning difficulties. For example, one way students learn a word is by reading it, saying its name, and writing it out in various materials.

One of the main focuses of this approach is questioning the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of reading. This helps them understand rules and patterns amongst words, leading to higher success when attempting to make sense of unfamiliar characters.

How Does the Orton-Gillingham Approach Work?

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The first step in the approach is through a student assessment. Any center or instructor trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach can conduct this assessment.

The student is tested on their reading skills, linguistic abilities, and areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Instructors then use the approach in small groups of students at similar skill levels. The effectiveness of Orton-Gillingham is in how it is based on a scientific understanding of how children develop language.

The next step is to coach the children on the connection between sounds and how they represent words. Students attempt to recognize those sounds in similar words. Understanding the connection is key to skill mastery.

The process works in a linear approach, meaning that students have to gain mastery of one skill before moving to the next.

An emphasis is placed on teaching the skill over and over again. Thoroughly understanding each skill allows the child to gain independence in understanding words.

What Are the Benefits of the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

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This program has empowered students in their learning for decades. There is a reason it is so successful in teaching reading and language skills to students with dyslexia.

Let us now take a look at the main Orton-Gillingham approach benefits.

Multisensory Approach

Children with dyslexia lack a high level of phonemic awareness. Thus, learning how to read based only on phonics is unsuitable for their skillset. The Orton-Gillingham integrates traditional phonics-based learning with an incorporation of the senses.

Flexible Learning

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This approach can be used for students of all skill levels. Breaking down language and reading into more minor skills provides a flexible system of learning.

For example, students are taught one distinct skill without fear of confusion with other skills. Once they have mastered the first skill, they move on to the second. If a student has mastery over some skills already, they can move up to the skill level that would suit them.

The Orton-Gillingham approach can be utilized for group learning as well as one-on-one sessions. The adaptable nature of the practice helps provide continuous and cohesive education to all kinds of learners.

Students Are the Focal Point

One of the main benefits of this approach is that it sees each learner as an individual in their own right.

Instructors are trained to bring out the best in every student. This is achieved so that students learn in a manner that is tailored to them. For example, a student who needs additional support in a particular skill will be allowed to master it before understanding the next one.

Thus, it provides an individualized approach that varies from traditional classroom learning. Students can take an active role in their education.

Help Your Child Thrive In the Classroom With the Orton-Gillingham Approach

The Orton-Gillingham approach is a well-regarded practice for those with learning difficulties. It has been used for over 80 years in classrooms worldwide to help children learn language and master skills.

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