When a student starts to struggle in school, parents and teachers may feel pressure to quickly find a way to help turn around the child’s performance. However, specifically with struggling readers, it can feel like there is only a short window to improve their skills before they fall too far behind. No need to panic! Young learners are incredibly resilient, and some specialized tutoring may be all it takes to help a student build a strong foundation and improve their reading skills. Orton-Gillingham is a reliable approach to help dyslexic students and struggling readers in classroom settings and one-on-one tutoring environments. Read below to learn more about this approach to reading education and discover what to expect from Orton-Gillingham tutoring.
Goals of Orton-Gillingham Tutoring
The Orton-Gillingham Approach is specifically designed to support struggling readers, although the principles of this teaching method can be applied to many different subjects. Therefore, Orton-Gillingham tutoring aims to give young readers the foundational language skills they need to help them read better. Orton-Gillingham tutors are trained to meet students where they are in terms of reading skills. Then, they develop a prescriptive educational plan that is tailored to the student and execute that plan over several sessions. The educational strategy and specific activities used in a tutoring session will depend on the tutor, the student’s needs, and how severe a student’s dyslexia or reading struggles are.
How Orton-Gillingham Tutoring is Different
While every tutoring session will look different depending on the needs of the student and the expertise of the tutor, there are certain benefits that make Orton-Gillingham tutoring stand out. For example, one of the most essential components of Orton-Gillingham tutoring is an individualized lesson plan that is tailored to meet the unique needs of the student. The Orton-Gillingham Approach also emphasizes the importance of multisensory activities to help students grasp complex language and reading skills. The combination of prescriptive tutoring and comprehensive, multisensory lessons helps students progressively build on the most important reading skills to help them succeed. Orton-Gillingham tutors also prioritize the basics of language skills so that students have a solid foundation on which they can expand their reading abilities in the future.
Additionally, Orton-Gillingham tutors go through specialized training and must be certified to teach students using the Orton-Gillingham Approach. With hours of study, practical experience, and supervised training, Orton-Gillingham certified tutors have been trained to provide the targeted and individualized instruction that is unique to this teaching approach. “Orton-Gillingham training really helps educators understand the diagnostic element of tutoring that is essential to creating a prescriptive game plan for a struggling reader,” says Kim Youmans, an Orton-Gillingham Associate and teacher at The Schenck School.
Typical Orton-Gillingham Tutoring Sessions
Tutoring sessions will differ depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the student, and they evolve over time as students learn. But a typical Orton-Gillingham tutoring session will usually start with practicing the most basic skills associated with reading, like phonemic awareness, in the form of a deck of sounds and letters. After some multisensory drills for foundational skills, a tutor will usually move on to introduce a new topic if the student is ready. The introduction of a new concept should always include additional practice spelling and reading words. Finally, an Orton-Gillingham tutoring session may end with practicing learned or non-phonetic words that don’t follow typical spelling rules. An Orton-Gillingham tutor’s goal should always be to help struggling students build confidence in themselves and eventually help them master the skills they need to read.
It can be challenging for parents and students to recognize the need for tutoring and then take the jump to actually find the right tutor. But parents should remember that they are doing what is best for their child by advocating for them and taking steps to get them the help they need. Dyslexic students and struggling readers can learn and succeed with the right set of skills.
The Dyslexia Resource is proud to provide resources to support the parents and teachers of struggling readers. From specialized Orton-Gillingham tutoring for struggling readers to our opportunities for continuing education, we strive to spread awareness around dyslexia and improve the lives of dyslexic individuals. Learn more about The Dyslexia Resource and contact us for more information.
This blog was written with contributions from Kim Youmans, a teacher at The Schenck School and an Orton-Gillingham Associate and tutor.