Orton-Gillingham Approach

The Orton-Gillingham Approach (OG) is an instructional technique particularly effective for dyslexic individuals – people who have unexpected difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing. At The Schenck School, OG is used in the classroom, in small group instruction, and in one-on-one tutoring. OG is incorporated in math, science, and social studies curricula as well. Taught by well-trained and experienced faculty, it is an effective tool.

Central to OG is a focus on the specific learning needs of the individual learner. Students with dyslexia must master the same basic knowledge about language and its relationship to writing as anyone else to become competent readers and writers. However, because of their dyslexia, they need direct and systematic help in sorting, recognizing and organizing the basic elements of language.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is:

Diagnostic & Prescriptive

OG is diagnostic and prescriptive. Each lesson is planned for a particular student or small group of students. It is not “packaged” curriculum in which “one size fits all.” The teacher is flexible, understanding the learner’s needs and using appropriate teaching strategies.

Direct & Explicit

OG is direct and explicit. The sequence of skills ensures the student’s success. All skills are practiced to mastery.

Language Based

OG is language based. Teachers are trained in the phonological (sound structure), morphological (form of words), and orthographical (writing convention) structure of the English language. Students learn the structure of words and how understanding the structure helps not only with decoding, but also with vocabulary and comprehension as well.


OG is multisensory, in that auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements are used together for optimal learning.

Taught Simultaneously

Spelling is taught simultaneously with reading. It is critical that reading and spelling go hand-in-hand. Orton-Gillingham skills are constantly reviewed, and new material is systemically introduced.

Structured, Sequential & Cummulative

OG is structured, sequential, and cumulative. Students begin by reading and writing letters and sounds in isolation then letters and sounds are blended into syllables and words. Consonants, digraphs, blends, and vowel teams all are introduced in a structured, sequential way.

Students learn new material while reviewing the “old” material until their skills are automatic. Vocabulary, sentence structure, writing and composition, and reading comprehension all are taught in a structure, sequential, and cumulative manner.


OG employs metacognitive strategies. Students learn the history of the English language and study the rules and generalizations that govern its structure. They benefit from knowing how the English language works and why certain words are phonetic while others have to be learned a different way. Instructors teach metacognitive strategies, so reading and writing are not reliant on memory or guessing.

Students experience a high degree of success and confidence with each lesson. Self-esteem develops from success, and learning becomes a positive experience for students.