By Allison Blythe, Child & Family Development
For children who are dyslexic or struggling with reading for other reasons, the Orton Gillingham method of teaching provides a great alternative.
The Orton Gillingham method is a multi-sensory approach that teaches reading through phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, segment, and manipulate phonemes, which are the smallest units of speech that distinguish one word from another.
These readers need an explicit and systematic approach that breaks words into syllables for quicker decoding and encoding. The Orton Gillingham method works through six or seven different syllable types. It uses finger tapping, swiping, sand writing, and various multi-sensory approaches to help these readers develop confidence and fluidity in their reading and spelling skills.
The Orton Gillingham method has been studied rigorously and shown to create new neural pathways to areas of the brain that aren’t being utilized in Dyslexic and struggling readers.
It does take time to achieve success through the Orton Gillingham method. Tutoring is recommended twice a week for about two years. This schedule does not always work practically or financially. In my time tutoring, I’ve watched many students improve dramatically with once-per-week instruction. While the beginning might seem slow, the skills grow exponentially. It is a privilege to watch these students move from slow pronunciation of one-syllable words, to being able to read fluently and confidently.
For a lot of kids and adults who struggle with Dyslexia, all they need is to be taught in a way that allows their brains to see and experience phonemic awareness. Even though reading might take much longer, they can do it, and it is so worth it.
Allison Blythe is a Certified Orton Gillingham tutor who recently joined the Education Team at Child & Family Development. Allison provides intensive reading intervention to school aged children at the C FD Pineville office location.
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