The Orton-Gillingham Approach to phonics instruction is at the very heart of all we do at The Schenck School. Our students are here because they are not strong readers, and we address this challenge every day. Research shows that the most successful intervention for dyslexia is intensive instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness, and our use of the Orton-Gillingham Approach provides this intervention daily.

While reading and writing are central to our curriculum, the School offers a comprehensive educational program to help students develop intellectually and to prepare them to reenter mainstream schools successfully.

girl with pencil and paper

Sound & Word Level Reading and Spelling

Reading instruction at The Schenck School begins at the letter and sound level in order to lay a foundation for the development of strong phonemic awareness. Students are taught each of the individual letter sounds as well as letter combinations and sounds. Students then study the structure of sound patterns that make up syllables, the rules that govern how vowels sound within syllables, and how words are divided into syllables. Building on that knowledge, students study prefixes, suffixes, and word roots. Direct instruction is coupled with repeated practice and new material is introduced systematically, building from simple to complex.

Spelling can be difficult for dyslexic learners. The School addresses this through daily instruction stressing mastery of sound and symbol. Every day, time is dedicated to the teaching and application of spelling rules, patterns, and generalizations of the English language.

Reading & Writing

Reading for understanding and written expression are vital parts of the School’s curriculum. Reading and writing are reciprocal skills. When a reader writes about new information being learned, the act of writing supports understanding and is more easily recalled. From the controlled phonics-based texts designed for the emergent reader to the rich content of both award-winning children’s literature and non-fiction passages, students decode text through reading practice throughout each school day. In addition, students write everyday from letter formation to dictated words/phrases/sentences to expository and narrative writing at the sentence, paragraph, and essay/narrative levels. Students learn and practice building sentences and basic paragraphs with increasing complexity while establishing a structured writing process. Students practice the rules of grammar, correct usage, and mechanics - learning parts of speech, role of words within sentences, and proper use of punctuation.

smiling boy with pencil and paper


Handwriting, both manuscript and cursive, is taught explicitly and intentionally emphasizing correct letter formation using the Handwriting Without Tears series.

smiling boy working with teacher


Reading fluency is practiced daily through our structured online fluency training Read Live. Students read high-interest reading passages tailored to their individualized fluency needs; reading for expression and understanding are emphasized and reinforced.


Vocabulary development and skilled reading are closely linked. Explicit vocabulary instruction is an essential component of our reading instruction. Teachers choose vocabulary-rich texts for students to read and vocabulary is explicitly taught and used throughout the school day. Morphology instruction - the study of Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes - is an integral part of reading instruction here at Schenck.


Math content follows the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is tailored to the needs of the student. Number sense and conceptual understanding are emphasized as is the language of math. Class discussion is facilitated to support and develop students’ justifications of mathematical reasoning and strategies. Math is taught as a visual endeavor incorporating multi-sensory manipulatives at every opportunity as needed to continuously develop students’ conceptual understanding.

two girls and two boys in lab coats and safety goggles

Science/Social Studies

Science and Social Studies content follows the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Reading and writing are taught in the context of content area curricula. Science and Social Studies instructional time is another opportunity to build students’ background knowledge which research shows supports the development of reading comprehension.