A Quick Primer on the Orton-Gillingham Methodology

The Orton-Gillingham methodology is a method of reading instruction that focuses on multi-sensory learning. The basic idea is that some students, particularly students with learning issues like dyslexia, benefit from using their senses to activate and retrain parts of the brain that are used in reading. As a result, Orton-Gillingham based instruction features a lot of interesting hands-on activities.

From my own experience as a teacher and tutor, Orton-Gillingham methodologies work very well when they are used as intended and when instruction is not rushed. Reading issues often develop over years and sometimes take years to successfully address. Students must be receive systematic instruction in phonics where they do not move onto the next step until they demonstrate mastery of the current step. Some students move through the levels in days while others can take months.

Some tutors will be less than forthcoming about how long reading instruction can take, but I prefer to be upfront with potential clients. The analogy that I like to use is that of braces. I tell parents that by the time people get braces their teeth have been growing incorrectly for years. Consequently, it is impossible to simply force the teeth into the proper alignment. Rather, the realignment process must occur systematically over time.

It is no different with reading instruction. The problem has also developed over years, so it cannot be fixed overnight. The great news is that it can definitely be fixed. All of my students have shown tremendous improvements in their reading, and the Orton-Gillingham methodology is a big part of my curriculum’s success.


I love your explanation of the Orton-Gillingham method! Thank you!


Lincoln T.

Reading Specialist, Writing Tutor, and College Essay Coach

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