Princeton Public Schools (PPS) announced that it was changing the way the district taught literacy. PPS plans to move to a reading curriculum that adheres to the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading instruction. This curriculum change is significant in that OG is an approach that is used to help children who struggle with reading and is often used to help children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia.
What is the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading? Here’s what parents should know about the unique way to teach reading and how it can benefit children who are learning to read or who might be struggling with proficiency.
According to Orton-Gillingham Academy, the approach “…is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia.”
In order to instruct students using the Approach, teachers must participate in specialized training sessions to understand how to properly guide students in literacy using OG. The Approach uses a one-on-one learning style, although Orton-Gillingham Academy explains that lessons also could be taught via small group formats.
This reading approach is noted to be beneficial for children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. In addition, others who struggle with reading also could benefit from the OG methodologies.
All kindergarten and first grade teachers in Princeton Public Schools will receive training in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Not only will children who struggle with reading receive the beneficial curriculum designed to meet their needs, but all early readers will receive it, too. Utilizing the OG Approach could allow more students to gain reading proficiency at an early age and acquire the necessary foundational literacy skills that can aid in them later grades.
Parents should understand, though, that Orton-Gillingham is an approach or style in teaching literacy; it isn’t necessarily a program. The Approach focuses on teaching children at a pace that is conducive with each child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Orton-Gillingham and the Science of Reading
Reading Rockets explains that the OG Approach integrates multisensory activities to strengthen reading understanding; the site notes that an example of teaching via OG might include encouraging children to write letters in shaving cream.
The OG Approach also is focused on what experts might call the ‘science of reading.’ Reading Rockets explains that OG helps children understand the reasons behind the structure and sounds of words. This teaching methodology could help children who struggle with decoding.
As reading scores across the country have revealed that reading proficiency is the exception and not the norm in public schools, more districts might move to instructional methodologies that are in line with the science of reading. Unfortunately, many districts might still teach reading based using pictures as clues for understanding the words in text.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, less than one-third of eighth graders score at a proficient level or above in reading. This means that the majority of those about to enter high school perhaps aren’t prepared to read at the expected level.
Can Parents Teach Orton-Gillingham at Home?
Parents who have children that have been diagnosed with dyslexia or who struggle with reading might be interested in utilizing the OG Approach to help their child with reading.
Orton-Gillingham Academy offers an introductory course for parents. This course can help parents better understand the approach to help their child. However, it does not allow them to be instructors.
Parents who understand this method could utilize some of the strategies at home to better guide their child with reading. In addition, if the child receives instruction via an OG-certified educator at school, the instructor also might be able to direct parents in the best ways to help their child with reading at home.
How Schools Teach Literacy Varies Per District
If a child is struggling to read at a proficient level, parents could wonder how their school teaches reading. States and districts can differ on their instructional methodologies including the programs that they use in the classroom.
However, more school districts and states are moving towards programs and reading lessons that focus on the science of reading. This ‘science’ involves helping children understand the sounds of letters and how those sounds look in a word; instructions based on the science of reading do not use pictures to guide reading and word understanding. Instead, children are taught phonics and phonemics to gain knowledge about patterns in words, structure of sounds and other integral concepts that guide decoding.
Many districts provide parents with background on curriculum at each grade level. Some schools host curriculum nights to help parents understand how their child is being taught in the classroom and what concepts children will need to master.
Parents can gain insight about reading instruction via curriculum nights as well as details provided by their district (curriculum details might be posted online). Some districts might still focus on old methodologies that encourage children to use pictures to guide the reading journey.
If parents discover their child is lacking proficiency and struggles with decoding skills, they might need to provide additional help and instruction at home. There are many free apps that can help children gain a better understanding of phonics and phonemics; parents can search for phonics apps via the App Store or Google Play.
In addition, reading programs (that focus on the science of reading) also could be beneficial to use at home. Parents should research reading programs and apps to ensure that they can help with their child’s struggles.
Some apps focus on phonics and decoding, others might help children who struggle with comprehension. In addition, parents also can find reading apps like Readability that provide guidance and instruction on all the elements necessary to gain proficiency.
How Readability Benefits Struggling Readers
Readability is designed to be used throughout elementary and early middle school; students can use the program from kindergarten through sixth grade. Readability provides leveled reading instruction for each child. Parents can determine the child’s reading level by using Readability’s free reading assessment tool.
Readability lets children hear passages in a story and then read the book aloud. The program includes a built-in AI tutor that is programmed with voice recognition software. The tutor understands if the child is struggling to decode and can provide help
At each reading level, children have access to a library of books. After they finish each book, the tutor will ask them questions about the story to test their reading comprehension. As children read aloud, the tutor also measures their reading fluency (measured in words read per minute).
Readability is designed to move at a child’s pace. Children advance to a higher reading level when they demonstrate proficiency related to fluency and comprehension. Parents can follow their child’s progress via a private portal that includes reading data for their child; the portal shows the child’s current reading level, their comprehension mastery, their fluency and how long they read via the program. Parents can collate this data into a report that can be emailed to the child’s teacher; in this way, Readability helps bridge the communication gap between school and home.
Parents can decide if Readability is right for their child by exploring the program; Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that provides access to all the features including the AI tutor. Sign up for a trial today to better understand how Readability can help every child gain confidence and proficiency.