Orton Gillingham Approach: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Editorial Team

It would be a great scenario where every student learns at the same pace as the instructors. Pragmatically, this may not be possible due to the personal compromises of some pupils. While some have no issues with customary pace, some may need relaxed and individualized training to compete with peers.

Fortunately, we can hang on to the mighty Orton-Gillingham approach to assist them. In this post, we will meticulously explore the Orton-Gillingham training approach’s insights.  

Orton-Gillingham training approach- What is it exactly? 

The Orton Gillingham training approach is reliable, positive, structured, sequential, diagnostic, prescriptive, and multi-sensory. It is advantageous for people with learning disabilities. This specialized approach assists in enhancing an individual’s reading, writing, and spelling skills; thus, it can be compelling in the hands of a germane instructor. Eminently, it is vastly recognized as an approach and not as a method or a program.

Orton-Gillingham Training Approach ensures a one-on-one teacher-student instructional norm. Being used in small groups, instructions are not hampered. The easy-to-understand slant revitalizes classroom instructions. A successful adaptation of this method is demonstrated where reading, writing, and spelling difficulties were given the most attention.

The Orton Gillingham training approach- A brief history 

This approach is named The Orton Gillingham Training Approach because of the seminal and foundational offerings of Anna Gillingham and Samuel T. Orton. Orton was a pathologist and a neuropsychiatrist. During his research career, he focused a lot on reading incapability and associated language processing hurdles. Later, he uncovered “dyslexia” as an educational disorder that makes it difficult to read and interpret signs and symbols.

Orton brought together many scientists and educational experts to conduct an analysis. In the process, he came across Anna Gillingham, a remarkable educator, and psychologist. Together, they conducted experiments and compiled instructional materials (for teacher training and student instruction), which grew popular in the early 1930s. It was then that the name Orton-Gillingham’s training approach was coined and made popular.

The essence of Orton Gillingham’s training approach

From the spelling rules to the various reading programs, many educators and parents are choosing to go for this method of learning for their little ones.

Orton-Gillingham pays extra attention to nourishing kids to pursue at the word level. It helps improve reading comprehension. Students are taught multiple procedures of training so that they can grasp better and faster. They learn letters (sticking to this approach) by observing them, saying them aloud, writing them down with their fingers, or drawing them. This strongly impacts comprehending the “how” and “why”.

Pupils get to explore why “bay” sounds contrasting with “bake”. Once they are well aware of the instructed rules and patterns, they can decode words and phrases on their own.

The Orton Gillingham Training Approach pays attention to the learning requirements of an individual. Orton Gillingham (OG) experts formulate lessons and materials in such a way that the students can comprehend them with ease by placing instructions and introducing new concepts to the students.

People with learning disabilities need to comprehend the basic knowledge of language to develop the same linguistic skills as anyone else. However, they require individualized guidance. OG professionals accordingly preach how to effectively sort, recognize, and organize the elements of language – and use them in their day-to-day lives. Linguistic characteristics that non-dyslexics acquire naturally need to be taught to special needs children extensively.

Orton Gillingham training approach- A pre-eminent pedagogy!

As a sequential approach, the Orton-Gillingham training approach assists students by putting their linguistic skills on par with other students. Based on the previous lessons, each new lesson is designed with intrinsic care to ensure there are no gaps.  Students can thus learn complex phrases with ease. Here are a set of benefits that the Orton-Gillingham approach offers:

  • Quick Detection of Reading Disabilities in an Individual: As it briskly detects intervention, the Orton Gillingham Training Approach is appropriate when it comes to reading disabilities. For instance, a school in New Jersey used this approach to determine dyslexia screening in their second-grade classrooms. After the assessment, it was discovered that testing in the second grade was key to getting a jump on early intervention. Later, coordinators for schools in New Jersey, in response to the intervention, stated that they would consider starting the analysis 2 years prior. They did believe that starting early would help eliminate the problem quickly. Further, a dyslexia specialist claimed that dyslexia can be detected as early as Kindergarten.
  • Everyone learns and interprets things in their own unique way. Accordingly, this approach is designed to cater to the individual requirements of a person. Schools following this approach ensure kids learn their strengths at their own pace, mitigating dilemmas due to pressure. Consequently, this approach works well for readers of all ages and abilities.
  • Each assignment is created carefully upon the previous one, so there are no gaps. Pupils here enhance from simple theories to the more complicated ones. Here, memorizing is a continual and constant estimation of formerly taught skills. With the approach being both sequential and cumulative, students comprehend with ease and efficiency.
  • It is effective in all sorts of education— in classrooms, small communities, or individuals. Not only students of all levels from primary section to college levels but also grown-ups can profit from this approach. However, this approach is custom-tailored for learning-disabled individuals.
  • While kids normally use visual and auditory senses to infer, this approach focuses on other senses like balance, touch, smell, and kinesthetics to offer an interactive pedagogy. Thus, the multisensory approach is a salient feature here. Studies[1] have shown that it works generously on improving reading skills. 

Imperative Orton Gillingham tools & resources

Who wouldn’t like to read in an explicit way adhering to all the intricate details – to comprehend things better? The Orton-Gillingham offers you an approach that will make you understand any concept with ease. In our previous posts, we have talked about the following tools and resources: 

  • Books: These have a set of edges for both learners and educators by developing knowledge on topics and amplifying the teaching-learning process. 
  • Resources: Various resources like phonogram decks, letter tiles, Red word grids, whiteboards, and various activities act as material manipulatives and valuable sources of education. 
  • Reading Programs: Choosing an appropriate reading program can elicit ameliorated outcomes. While there are many reading programs available, you may opt for anyone based on the options available and your preferences. 
  • Spelling Rules: Toddlers may start their schooling by grasping various regulations of vocabulary to master spoken and written languages. Spelling rules can act as a guide to know peculiar rules that brush up professional communication later. Sometimes, apps and games can make these notions engrossing.
  • Apps and games: In the scenario where Phone is available almost every time, kids are just a click away from their favorite games and apps. Thus, these turned pivotal. You can now avail of phonic learning apps along with spelling games and apps. Do you know Board games can also aid students in Orton-Gillingham academics?
  • IEP goals: Students with learning compromises may need special attention to compete with peers. For Such special needs children, IEP goals make sense to improve personal glitches effortlessly with an appropriate plan of action. 

This ancient technique thus has numerous reasons to opt for. Being a multisensory, and individualized plan to educate the fundamentals of language, this approach has the following value addition:

  • Well-trained Teachers: The teachers in this approach are trained well  – and they have experience that they can handily explain the concepts to their students. Orton Gillingham has been in this field for more than 80 years. They provide several means of learning and study to their students with the help of different tools and resources. Their main motto is that students should not face any problems in understanding concepts.
  • Early Screening of Learning Disabilities: The Orton Gillingham approach also helps in the early screening of learning disabilities, such as dyscalculia, dyslexia, and so on. Young learners use their bodily senses (sense of touch, vision, hearing, et al) in order to grasp concepts. Thus, if a student finds difficulty in reading a particular number or understanding basic concepts, there’s a good chance he/she might have a learning disability. 
  • Magnetic Letters and Words: Not everyone has a knack for playing with words and letters. Orton Gillingham thus offers magnetic letters and words so that students can immerse themselves well in it and learn something. Here, students learn virtual and visual learning together- so that their brains can efficiently acquire the concept. Orton Gillingham’s teaching includes phonogram desks, colorful grids, Whiteboard and dry Erase Markers, various games & activities, Digital platforms, Data monitoring strategy, and so on.


Considering an idea and looking at it from multiple perspectives can yield unforeseen results; thus, the Orton-Gillingham approach can be advantageous for all students, including special needs. Evidently, studies stated above have shown that it works generously on improving reading skills.

With the implementation of unique pedagogies like multisensory approaches, it turned out pre-eminent. Thus, it’s fair to conclude that the Orton Gillingham Training Approach can be an absolute boon for learners if it is tutored the right way! 


[1] Current State of the Evidence: Examining the Effects of Orton-Gillingham Reading Interventions for Students With or at Risk for Word-Level Reading Disabilities: Stevens E. (2021, July)

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