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Choosing a Tutor Trained with Orton Gillingham: What You Need to Know

Shelley Hatch, Executive Director Dyslexia Center of Utah,SLT Structured Literacy Teacher

When seeking an OG (Orton Gillingham) trained tutor for my child with dyslexia, what should I look for?

MYTH: If my child gets a diagnosis of “dyslexia” from a licensed psychologist (in Utah), they will get the specialized help they need in school.

Most Utah school teachers do NOT have the specialized training required to teach a child with dyslexia.

What OG Training is Not:

  • It is not a boxed product: one size DOES NOT fit all.

  • To properly use the OG approach, you cannot just read a manual and practice with a couple of students.

  • You cannot attend a 2-3 day overview and consider yourself a Dyslexia Tutor Specialist!

It is like taking a 2-3 day class, reading a book, listening to a podcast, or watching a YouTube video on how to lose weight and calling yourself a weight loss expert, personal coach, or dietician!

“Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with individuals who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing of the sort associated with dyslexia. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, system, or technique.”

What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

The Orton-Gillingham 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. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.

"The essential curricular content and instructional practices that characterize the Orton-Gillingham Approach are derived from two sources: first from a body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 80 years, and second from scientific evidence about how individuals learn to read and write; why a significant number have difficulty in doing so; how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult; and which instructional practices are best suited for teaching such individuals to read and write.” Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators

When using a diagnostic, systematic, structured, multisensory approach faithfully, you take the guesswork out of reading.

You start by teaching the six syllable types in isolation with many layers of multisensory instruction and practice.

What to Look For in a Tutor:

The following questions will be helpful to ask when deciding upon an OG trained tutor for your child:

  1. What approach are you trained in?

  2. How many years did you receive instruction?

  3. Are you accredited through the IDA, ALTA, AGOPE, OR IMSLEC?

  4. Do you use a multisensory structured language education (MSLE) program to teach reading?

  5. How long have you been tutoring?

  6. How many students have you tutored?

  7. Do you have current certification?

  8. How often do you reassess the students?

  9. Can I observe a session with a current student?

  10. What are the components of each lesson?

  11. How will you tailor the process of reading, spelling, writing, and dictation for my child?

  12. Do you assign homework?

  13. What goals will you be setting for my child?

  14. What is the length and frequency of the tutoring sessions?

  15. How often do you communicate with the students’ parents?

  16. What experience have you had working with children?

Be leery if the tutor promises that your child will be reading by a specific deadline.

About the Author:

Shelley Hatch is the director of the Dyslexia Center of Utah. She is 2-year OG trained in the Slingerland Institute for Literacy approach. Certified Structured Literacy Teacher (C-SLT)


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