| |

How To Explain Orton-Gillingham to Families


explaining orton-gillingham approach to families
Explaining Orton-Gillingham to Families
It can be a challenge when talking about dyslexia and the parts of an Orton-Gillingham lesson to avoid using a lot of technical language and jargon. Many times, parents seeking tutoring services have been told their child should receive Orton-Gillingham instruction or sometimes a specific O-G based program, without really getting much guidance on what that means.

To help them better understand Orton-Gillingham tutoring, I will often touch on a couple of different points.

The origins of O-G: Talking to parents about Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham and their discovery and development of techniques that work particularly well for students with language-based learning disabilities is a good foundation. Without sounding like a history textbook, it is helpful to know that Orton-Gillingham methods have a lot of research and evidence backing up their efficacy.

The difference between a program and the Orton-Gillingham approach: Many parents are confused because they may have heard of one or more of the popular Orton-Gillingham based programs that are widely used in special education. One of these programs may be mentioned by name in recommendations from psychological testing or may be offered to their child at school when the recommendations say Orton Gillingham. They often wonder where OG or one of these other programs fits in. I like to help parents understand the difference between a program that is Orton Gillingham based, with its own scope and sequence, areas which it gives increased emphasis or areas that it may not address and what is sometimes referred to as “straight OG”. I like to help them understand that regardless of which is used, they want there to be certain characteristics in place.

What multi-sensory instruction means: Multi-sensory is an example of a buzz word that parents may hear, but never really have explained to them. Giving a brief overview of what multi-sensory teaching looks like and the way in which using multiple senses gives students multiple pathways for learning and retrieval. Using this language triangle poster may help.

multisensory teaching techniques
The way in which Orton-Gillingham instruction is individualized: Several of the key principles of Orton Gillingham instruction being diagnostic, prescriptive and flexible can really be summed up by explaining that the lessons are individually designed for each child. Pacing, review, word choices and even the precise sequence of lessons is decided on the basis of the child’s performance and response to instruction.
The way in which Orton-Gillingham is systematic, sequential and explicit: Many parents, teachers and kids believe that English is crazy. While this may seem to be true at first, scratching the surface and engaging in a deep understanding of the language reveals much order and logic. Unlocking this order and logic for students systematically through carefully designed lessons leads students to become extremely informed about the inner workings of the English language. While this expertise comes from needing to learn about reading and writing in a different way, it can also be tremendously helpful to boosting a student’s concept of themselves as a smart and capable learner.
What a typical OG lesson includes: Giving parents a little overview of a lesson can help to show ways in which the lesson includes phonics, phonological awareness, and morphology. It can demonstrate the work that happens both on decoding and encoding as well as teaching spelling generalizations. I like to explain the importance of using controlled text as well as eventually using uncontrolled text. I also like to talk about how sight words, comprehension, vocabulary or other cognitive training may be woven into their instructional program.
Teacher training: I think one of the most important things for parents to understand is what sort of training they should expect from a highly qualified Orton-Gillingham instructor. In cases where a student is receiving an Orton-Gillingham based program at school, but not making a lot of progress, helping parents to see the ways in which the intensity, individualization or level of instructor training may be issues can help parents to find and secure instruction to better meet the needs of their child.
This is a lot of information for anyone, let alone someone without a background in education. A picture is worth 1000 words and sitting in on an Orton Gillingham lesson and seeing their child at work is often hugely helpful for parents to understand a bit more about OG instruction.
explaining orton-gillingham approach to families

If you are seeking a printable handout for families, this FREE informative pamphlet can be a take away for parents to refer to and may answer many of their questions.



teachers pay teachers sale

Save up to 25% off in my TPT store on February 2-4, 2020! A couple of new resources are listed below for you to check out.

Note: One newer growing bundles is already deeply discounted, so I will not be including it in the sale.

decoding strategies
DECODING STRATEGIES: End the guessing game!


orton-gillingham bundle



I’d love to share a tool that will cut some of that lesson planning time down for you.

Word List Builder is a time-saving, web-based tool that is going to streamline the lesson planning process for you.

Since it’s all web-based…

  • You can use Word List Builder anywhere.
  • Try the mobile or desktop version.
  • No need to bog your hard drive with lots of files or clunky software that becomes outdated.
  • Updates to the site are done automatically for you.

What can you do with Word List Builder?

  • Search for words with a highly unique search engine by spelling patterns, syllable types and division and morphological patterns
  • Create folders to save the words you searched.
  • Export the words from a folder into a template: Create word lists, word cards, phrasing templates for fluency practice and games.
  • Adjust for font size, font type and formatting
  • Save the templates you create.
  • Print and use what you made right away!

In this part one tutorial video, I show you how to set up a folder and begin searching for words. I have a tutorial for Word List Builder Part Two and Word List Builder Part Three.

You can catch them on the Word List Builder site or on The Literacy Nest YouTube Channel.

Sign up for a 21-day FREE trial of Word List Builder. Simply create an account, login and you’re on your way!

Thank you for stopping by my blog today. 🙂


 Try Word List Builder!   

Calling all Orton-Gillingham tutors and therapists! I have a directory of qualified educators on my site for parents to search. Join or search when you click on “Word List Builder” at the top. When you are there, click on   “Find A Tutor” or go HERE. You may register to enter your contact information in the directory for only $10 a year. Families may search the directory for free!

 Try Tutor Finder Directory!

A HUGE thank you for your continued support of me, my store and my website! It is greatly appreciated!












Similar Posts


  1. It was awesome that you emphasized the importance of explaining to parents that the Orton-Gillingham methods are backed by evidence and research. In my opinion, this is important for parents to understand because it means their children will be using methods that have been tried and tested. I will have to look more into Orton-Gillingham methods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.