Written by Judy Cowin, Tutoring Coordinator
I am often asked, “What is Orton-Gillingham?” Parents may have come across the name in their research, heard of a “multi-sensory method”, or received a referral from a psychologist recommending a program such as Orton-Gillingham.
This past year we have embarked on the opening of the Tutoring Center to support students who struggle in reading, math, and executive function skills. Many of our students come to the center with a diagnosis of dyslexia or a language based disability. Studies have shown the Orton-Gillingham Approach to be effective with these students and others who struggle with reading.
Our trained tutors observe student behavior from the initial assessment to determine the skill level of the student and plan where instruction will begin. Unlike scripted programs, Orton-Gillingham is flexible so that each lesson is based on the student’s current performance, with continuous feedback and positive reinforcement from the tutor as the student progresses. We plan lessons based on the individual student to determine if repeated practice is needed or if they are ready to move forward. Each tutor uses strategies to engage the learner throughout the lesson using multi-sensory techniques (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) to practice and reinforce each new skill. Students practice “see it, say it, and write it” to strengthen and advance skills. They may form letters in rice, highlight a sound or blend letters to form words as they engage in practice activities. They are active learners!
Our Tutoring Center provides O-G tutoring by a staff of teachers and experienced tutors. Each of our tutors have participated in training followed by months of practicum application under supervision to uphold the fidelity of the Orton-Gillingham Approach. This process is like an educator’s college coursework culminating in student teaching.
How long will this take? As one of the approach’s founders, Anna Gillingham, puts it “Go as fast as you can and as slowly as you must.”
Individual students begin tutoring at their own level, proceed at their own pace and find success as early as possible to become confident and successful readers.