Over the years, there have been different approaches to teaching young children to read. The two main approaches discussed and debated in the academic setting are whole language and phonics. Whole language instruction emphasizes meaning and, put simply, focuses on teaching children to recognize words as whole pieces of language. This directly contrasts with phonics-based instruction which emphasizes the teaching of decoding and spelling.
Dyslexic students benefit from multi-sensory, phonics-based instruction. Today, the two most common terms used to describe phonics-based methods of instruction are Structured Literacy and Orton-Gilligham (“OG”).
The Orton-Gilligman approach to reading instruction was developed by Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham in the 1920s. Orton was a neuropsychiatrist who studied language processing difficulties now commonly associated with dyslexia. Together with Gilligham, an educator and psychologist, they trained teachers and published instructional materials for remedial reading programs based on Orton’s neurological research. The Orton-Gillingham method has been in use since the 1930s and is described as a “language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive and flexible method.” (http://www.ortonacademy.org/approach.php) The method incorporates visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. While originally used primarily in special education settings, the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading benefits all students and has moved into general classroom settings.
Some classroom reading programs based on Orton-Gillingham methods include: Project Read, Wilson Fundations and Recipe for Reading. Instruction is typically 20-30 minutes per day.
Some reading intervention programs based on Orton-Gillingham methods include: The Barton Reading & Spelling System, The Wilson Reading System, The Slingerland Approach and The Spaulding Method.
More recently, the International Dyslexia Association coined the term “Structured Literacy.” Structured Literacy refers to reading instruction that is systematic, cumulative and explicit. Not only does Structured Literacy benefit dyslexic students, but evidence shows that it is beneficial for all readers.