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Explaining Orton-Gillingham to Families

Explaining Orton-Gillingham to families isn't always easy. Check out this post for seven talking points you can use with parents.

Here are seven points you can always explain to families about Orton-Gillingham:

1. The origins of O-G

When speaking with parents, it's useful to start by discussing Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham's techniques that have been successful for students with language-based learning disabilities. It's important to avoid a textbook-like delivery and instead highlight the extensive research and evidence that supports the effectiveness of Orton-Gillingham methods.

2. The difference between a program and the Orton-Gillingham approach

Parents of students with language-based learning disabilities may be confused by the numerous Orton-Gillingham-based programs utilized in special education. Some of these programs are recommended in psychological testing reports, while others are offered to their child in school. To help alleviate confusion, it's important to explain the difference between a program that is Orton-Gillingham-based, which may have its own unique sequence, emphasis, or areas of focus, and "straight OG," which adheres to the basic principles of Orton-Gillingham. Both approaches aim to support students with language-based learning disabilities, but understanding the nuances between them can be helpful in determining which program will best meet a student's individual needs.

3. What multi-sensory instruction means

Parents may come across the term "multi-sensory" when researching Orton-Gillingham-based programs for their child, but may not fully understand what it means. It's important to provide a clear explanation of how multi-sensory teaching engages multiple senses, providing students with multiple pathways for learning and recall. Utilizing visual aids like the language triangle poster can be a helpful tool to illustrate the concept and assist parents in better understanding the benefits of multi-sensory instruction.

4. Orton-Gillingham instruction is individualized

The fundamental principles of Orton-Gillingham instruction, which include being diagnostic, prescriptive, and flexible, can be simplified as individualized lessons tailored to the unique needs of each student. This approach involves determining the appropriate pacing, review, word choices, and lesson sequence based on the child's individual performance and response to instruction. By customizing lessons to meet the specific needs of each learner, Orton-Gillingham instruction can effectively support students with language-based learning disabilities.

5. Orton-Gillingham is systematic, sequential, and explicit

English can often be seen as a complex and confusing language, leading some parents, teachers, and students to believe that it's "crazy". However, a deeper understanding of the language reveals a logical and organized system. Orton-Gillingham instruction is designed to systematically unlock this system for students, resulting in a comprehensive understanding of English. By mastering the language in a unique way, students not only improve their reading and writing skills but also develop a strong sense of competence and intelligence.

6. What a typical OG lesson includes

Providing parents with a brief lesson overview can effectively illustrate how Orton-Gillingham instruction incorporates phonics, phonological awareness, and morphology. This approach covers both decoding and encoding skills, as well as instruction on syllabication and spelling generalizations. Controlled text is initially utilized to support student success, with a gradual transition to uncontrolled text as skills improve. Orton-Gillingham instruction also includes instruction in areas such as sight words, comprehension, vocabulary, and other cognitive training, which are interwoven into the instructional program to support the student's overall literacy development.

7. Teacher training

Understanding the type of training a highly qualified Orton-Gillingham instructor should provide is essential for parents. If a student isn't progressing in an Orton-Gillingham-based program at school, it could be due to inadequate instructor training, lack of individualization, or insufficient program intensity. In this case, it's important for parents to find suitable instruction that meets their child's needs. This can be overwhelming for parents without an educational background, but observing their child during an Orton-Gillingham lesson can help them understand the teaching approach and witness their child's engagement with the materials.

In relation to the topic, Learn with Koala provides a valuable resource for students who are struggling with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Its tutors are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach, which has been proven to be effective in helping students improve their reading, writing, and spelling skills. With its online platform, Learn with Koala offers the convenience of personalized, one-on-one tutoring from the comfort of home. Parents seeking to provide their children with high-quality instruction tailored to their individual needs may find that Learn with Koala is a valuable tool in helping their child succeed academically.  You can find and book those classes at this page.

Happy Learning!

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