What is all of this about Orton-Gillingham?
Let’s unpack the term and what it stands for. First things first, it is not a program, it is not scripted, it is not just for children with dyslexia (it’s for everyone), and it is not a one-size-fits-all approach and it is not yet a readily accessible methodology for students. Orton-Gillingham is a very effective teaching methodology when implemented by a certified instructor focusing on multi-sensory, sequential, incremental, cumulative, prescriptive/individualized, and explicit instruction techniques.
Dr. Samuel Orton, a distinguished neuropsychiatrist, and Anna Gillingham, a pioneering psychologist, collaborated to develop a teaching approach that transcends the boundaries of traditional education. Initially designed to combat "word blindness" or dyslexia, their methods were groundbreaking. Focusing on phonics, Orton and Gillingham introduced multisensory teaching strategies, making reading accessible to all, especially those struggling with dyslexia. Over time, the scope of Orton-Gillingham widened; it is no longer confined to dyslexic learners but embraced by anyone seeking a robust foundation in reading and writing skills. The Orton-Gillingham approach is designed for kids with dyslexia but it will work for children without as well. I always say that if it works for someone with a disability it will work for everyone without a disability, and this has proven to be true as it is becoming an increasingly popular method in mainstream classrooms.
One of the core strengths of Orton-Gillingham lies in its adaptability. Unlike standardized approaches, it doesn't force learners into predefined molds. Instead, it tailors instruction to individual needs. By incorporating multisensory, sequential, prescriptive, individualized, and explicit teaching techniques, Orton-Gillingham addresses the diverse learning styles and challenges of students. It recognizes that every learner is unique, and thus, their educational journey should be too.
Orton-Gillingham was initially heralded as a remedy for dyslexia, but its efficacy isn’t limited to a specific demographic. Research and practice have proven that this approach benefits all learners, irrespective of their abilities or challenges. In fact, the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) affirms, “There is no cure for dyslexia, but the use of IDA-Accredited Orton-Gillingham programs has been proven to increase reading and writing scores for students who struggle with this learning disability.” This resounding endorsement underscores the method’s universal applicability.
Despite its proven effectiveness, the widespread implementation of Orton-Gillingham in educational institutions remains a work in progress. Access to certified instructors and appropriate resources is not yet universally available. This scarcity highlights the need for increased awareness, training, and integration of this methodology into mainstream education. As we move forward, addressing this gap should be a priority, ensuring that every learner has equal access to the transformative power of Orton-Gillingham.
Statistics reveal the transformative potential of Orton-Gillingham. Schools and educators that have embraced this methodology report significant improvements in student’s reading and writing abilities. However, these success stories should not remain isolated. By investing in training educators, expanding resources, and fostering collaboration between schools and educational organizations, we can bridge the gap between the methodology’s potential and its actual implementation.
The overall aim of Orton-Gillingham lies in empowering learners, one word at a time. In the intricate tapestry of education, Orton-Gillingham stands out as a beacon of inclusivity and individualized learning. It defies the limitations of traditional education, offering a lifeline to those struggling with language-based learning difficulties. By understanding its origins, recognizing its versatility, and advocating for its widespread adoption, we pave the way for a more inclusive educational landscape. Orton-Gillingham isn’t just about teaching phonics; it’s about nurturing confidence, fostering a love for language, and empowering learners to conquer the written word. As we champion its cause, we embark on a collective journey toward a future where
every learner can thrive, one word at a time.
Parents, if you are interested in learning more about implementing Orton-Gillingham in your child’s studies, find resources here: decodingdyslexia.net
Teachers, if you are interested in pursuing an Orton-Gillingham certification, find resources here: imse.com
“Orton-Gillingham: Orton-Gillingham and so Much More.” Teresa Garretson Site, 25 Apr.