Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Kids With Dyslexia

by | Jul 22, 2014 | Resources | 31 comments

The goal of this post is to point you in the right direction to find reading curriculum for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia that really work.

Over my 20 years of homeschooling kids with dyslexia, I’ve tried and failed with many reading curricula.  There was nothing inherently wrong with those programs.  They would have worked for 80% of kids learning to read.  But not with my kids.  For my kids, and 20% of the population with dyslexia, it doesn’t matter how many songs, games or brightly colored readers accompany a reading program – they just won’t work. The goal of this post is to point you in the right direction to find reading curricula for teaching reading to kids with dyslexia that really work.

To begin with, you need to know a few things:

1.  All dyslexics can learn to read with the right methods.

2.  You don’t need to be intimidated by the thought of teaching your dyslexic kids to read.

3.  Teaching them to read can take a lot of time – even with the right methods.

What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

In the 1930s, Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham did studies with different methods of reading with people with ‘word blindness’ – as dyslexia was commonly referred to back then.  

Their approach consisted of an intensive, sequential phonics-based system that used the three learning modalities, or pathways, through which people learn—visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

In the past 100 years, these methods are still proven to work. When I went through my Orton-Gillingham training, we learned these methods and techniques and how to use them in a tutoring situation.  

You don’t need to be a certified tutor to teach with these methods.  Keep reading. On this site, you will hear me refer to the Orton-Gillingham or OG method and also research-based teaching methods.  These terms are interchangeable.

What is a Research-based Reading Curriculum for Dyslexia

Remember as you are reading this next section, that the purpose of this site is to educate you, the parents.  If you begin to feel overwhelmed by the descriptions below, be mindful that you do not need to reinvent the wheel.  There are reading curricula that have been developed, for homeschoolers, that meet these criteria.

I am providing this information to you for two reasons:

1.  If you hire a tutor, they should be using these methods so you will need to know what they are.

2.  If you are teaching your own kids to read at home, you will want a reading curriculum that meets these requirements.

An effective reading program for dyslexia will teach:

 

Phonemic Awareness: How to listen to a single word or syllable and break it into its individual sounds.  Students should be able to change sounds, remove sounds and compare sounds all in their head. All curricula will need modifications of some sort.

Sound-Symbol Association:  The knowledge of the various sounds in our language and their corresponding letter or combination of letters that represent those sounds.  This includes blending sounds together into words and segmenting or taking whole words apart into individual sounds.

Syllabication Instruction:  Instruction of the six (some people say 7) basic syllable types.

Morphology:   The study of base words, roots, prefixes and suffixes. This becomes very helpful when decoding longer words. There is a logic behind reading and spelling that can be known.

Semantics:  Instruction in reading comprehension strategies.

An effective reading program will teach in this way:

 

Simultaneous and Multi-sensory:  Research has shown that dyslexics using all of their senses as they learn (visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic) are better able to store and retrieve information. Simultaneous simply means that using as many of these senses as possible at once (simultaneously) is best.

Systematic and Cumulative:  Good instruction should be organized in a logical order. This basically means that the sequence of instruction that you follow must begin with the easiest and most basic elements and progress methodically to more difficult concepts.

In addition, these lessons must be taught systematically to strengthen memory.  So for example, when you teach a syllable type and it’s rules – you would follow the same procedure for every syllable as it is introduced.  

The method is the same and predictable and frees up brain space for remembering and applying the rule. Cumulative means, for example, after introducing a rule, practice until is is mastered, and do lots of review.

This is where a lot of traditional teaching curricula fall short. Dyslexics need to over learn material until it becomes automatic and in many cases, this takes a lot of review , more than traditional learners.

Direct instruction:  Every rule must be taught directly and practiced until mastered. Dyslexic learners do not naturally pick up the rules of written language.  Can’t assume that they’ll pick things up automatically like a traditional learner. The penny usually won’t drop by itself!

Diagnostic Teaching:  Teaching must be individualized and the student’s needs and progress must be constantly reassessed. This is why it is difficult to find a program that works out of the box.

All curricula that is used with the dyslexic learner will need a certain amount of tweaking or rearranging of the lesson plans. This may mean either adding more practice or taking longer to teach what would be contained in a single lesson.

Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Reading Programs That we Love

Many reading curricula have some of these elements but if they don’t have ALL of them, the information will not stick or progress will be very slow.  We have tried with success the following Orton-Gillingham programs:

All About Reading

All About Reading has contains all of the elements of a research-based reading program.  It is an open and go curriculum which means that you can gather the materials, open the book and start teaching.  This is a serious program that kids still enjoy.  We start in Pre-Level 1 which has excellent instruction in Phonemic Awareness and Sound Symbol Association.  The multi-sensory instruction keeps kids interested while causing the information to stick.  All About Reading was developed for homeschooling families and has a fantastic web site with lots of resources for parents.  There customer support is also very good.  The program comes with a 60 day money back guarantee.  Read my full review of All About Reading here.  

Logic of English

Logic of English:  A very thorough, easy-to-use reading program based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading.  Foundations level for children ages 4-7 has many highly multi-sensory teaching ideas and includes instruction in cursive or manuscript (whichever you prefer).  Essentials level for children 8+ contains 3 levels so that instruction can be tailored to your child’s needs.  Can be used for several years in a row using the higher levels.  Includes study of Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes.  An excellent, well-rounded program. Read my complete review of Logic of English Foundations (for ages 4-7) here.

Reading Horizons At Home

Reading Horizons has been writing Orton-Gillingham based reading curricula for use in schools for over 20 years.  They recently developed some programs for at home use.  In particular, the program for older struggling readers has had huge success.  It has none of the cute cartoons and childish story lines of most early phonics instruction yet starts at the beginning and strengthens and builds a solid foundation in kids 10 and older.  Mastery-based (you don’t move on until you have mastered something) and completed on the computer, it is an excellent tool for teaching the older student who is still struggling to read.  Read my full review of Reading Horizons here.

Learn More About Teaching Kids With Dyslexia to Read

 

Learning about dyslexia and how to educate, encourage and empower your kids with dyslexia are super important. My own education is what has made the biggest difference in my homeschool.

Get my Free Ebook

For more information on getting started homeschooling your child with dyslexia, consider downloading my free e-book, Homeschooling With Dyslexia 101, that covers things like understanding learning styles and teaching methods, how to create a positive learning environment and schedule, or how to set goals and get it all done.

Take a Parent Education Course

For more information on specific strategies to teach your dyslexic child the way he or she learns, consider taking one of our Parent Dyslexia Classes.

Connect With Us!

This site was created to be a place for families who chose to homeschool their dyslexic kids to share there successes and failures and to offer encouragement to one another.  Please consider dropping by the Homeschooling With Dyslexia Facebook Page and being a part of our community!

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31 Comments

  1. Sharon

    Terrific post. I took an Orton-Gillingham course as a homeschooling mom. It was very informative. We also use a program called Dancing Bears by Sound Foundations. It has worked well with two of my three children (the two with reading disabilities-I didn’t have to use any type of program with my middle child as she just learned to read pretty much on her own).

    Reply
  2. Michelle Chabra

    I also highly recommend Barton Reading and Spelling, another Orton-Gillingham based program. I am using it successfully with my own dyslexic son and have begun to tutor other students as well. Susan Barton, the author of the program, designed it so that parents, even those who are dyslexic themselves, can tutor their own children. All the training you need is on very clear DVD’s that come with each level. The manuals are scripted, with step by step lessons, and helpful tips for any problems that may arise. Susan also provides extensive free support. I have always gotten responses to my questions within a day. There is extensive research to validate the effectiveness of the program, all available on the website, bartonreading.com.

    Reply
    • Gabby

      Where did you get your dvds? The only training I have seen is in person in Arizona or Chicago.

      Reply
      • Marianne

        I’m not sure what DVDs you’re referring to Gabby. I did my dyslexia training through the Dyslexia Training Institute in San Diego. Although, the program was online.

        Reply
        • Gabby

          Thank you. Can you also post a link on how to purchase these classes?

          Reply
      • Laura

        You get the Barton dvds when you purchase each level (you also receive a login if you’d prefer to just watch the lessons online). I’m teaching my dyslexic 8-yr-old daughter using Barton and it is a slow process, but very effective. She is in the middle of level 4.

        Reply
        • Gabby

          Thank you. Can you post a link on how to purchase these classes?

          Reply
  3. Colleen

    I was very surprised that Susan Barton’s Reading and Writing program (though expensive) isn’t on the your reading list. It is AH-MAZING!! My 8 year old son started in May as a 110% NON reader–NO idea about phonological awareness aside from rhyming words orally; couldn’t sound out ANYthing! He wouldn’t write and only slowly did any copywork. Now, only 3 months later, he can read CVC words, CCVCC words, sight words and spells the same sight words he can read! I know it’s expensive but the resources and support from Barton as well as additional games, activities, practice, are valuable!

    Also, what are your thoughts about Handwriting Without Tears? I’ve heard many people rave about that program for their dyslexic children. I admit I was excited at reading your post about curricula and jumped in but now feel that the listing is not very thorough? 🙁 Do you (or any readers) have any experience with TouchMath for dyslexic children?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • marianne

      Hi Colleen. I have other posts about handwriting (or dealing with dysgraphia) and math (and dysgraphia) but this post was mainly for reading curricula that I personally love. I do think that Barton is a very good program but it did not work well for my profoundly dyslexic son and many people that I talk to say that their kids are bored and dislike the program. I think it may be better for older kids to adults. We just prefer All About Reading! The variety of games, the beautifully illustrated readers and the hands on teaching (plus the cheaper price tag) all make it preferable to me as a mom of 7 kids with dyslexia.

      Reply
      • Hannah

        I loved all about reading but was told by a mother if a dyslexic child that it was not intense enough?? It is tough to know what to use. I know you write for Nessy.com is using that program enough or do I need to supplement with something like all about reading ? I enjoy your blog and love homeschooling !!!

        Reply
        • Marianne

          Hi Hannah,
          It really depends on the severity of your child’s dyslexia. My mild to moderate dyslexics do well with programs like AAR, Barton, and Logic of English while my more profoundly dyslexic kids needed more. I think that all programs can (even should) be supplemented with all kinds of games like Nessy. Dyslexic kids need a lot of practice and games make that a bit more fun!

          Reply
      • Leisha Peters

        I loved the recommendations made for reading programmes, but it seems they don’t have pdf versions one can purchase.

        Can you recommend a cirriculum where one can purchase pdf version. Shipping to South Africa costs a small fortune!

        Reply
  4. Jessica freeman

    I, too, homeschool a dyslexic child. Tough work! I love your article!
    Question, How can a mom becomes trained in Orton Gillingham? I want to do it to help my son but also to tutor other kids with the same struggles. I can’t find much info on their website and am trying other avenues to find info.

    Reply
    • marianne

      Hi Jessica. I went through Dyslexia Training Institute online program. It is excellent and approved by Orton-Gillingham.

      Reply
  5. Leisa

    Do you have a review of Logic of English?? I have a 5-1/2 year old girl and she is reading pretty well. I am having a really hard time deciding between All About Reading and Logic of English. Many of the reviews I have read say LOE is slightly better for kids who are wiggly and like to move.
    I really like that LOE has apps that for an iPad to supplement the lessons.
    I also recently had Reading Horizons recommended to me by a friend of mine who is a long time 2nd grade teacher (she was my 2nd grade teacher!), but I am very put off by the price tag.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      I don’t have a review up – yet! I’m using LOE with my 6-year old right now and LOVE it! I prefer RH for the older grades although it is a very good program. We are long time users and fans of AAR. LOE has more truly multi-sensory activities for sure.

      Reply
  6. Amy

    I highly recommend “Go Phonics” which is an Orton-Gillingham based program developed by a former LD teacher who had worked with a large number of dyslexic children. “Go Phonics” is relatively affordable compared to most O-G programs and it really worked for my two dyslexic children. They started the program as non -readers in second grade and two years later they were reading fluently at the third grade level.

    Reply
  7. Paula

    We have been using AAR and AAS for about 2 years now and just started with level 4. It has worked much better than what we had before but school is still a struggle each day. I’ve been thinking of switching to something else once we have finished level 2 of AAS especially since I want to begin a formal grammar program. I am not sure how that would work if we are still using the reading program. Is it easy to switch to LOE after using another program?

    Reply
    • Marianne

      Hi Paula,
      If you’re wanting to add grammar, LOE is a perfect fit. The hardest thing about switching is getting used to using the new program. There may be some overlap but they would be manageable. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jen

    Hi, Does anyone know where I can purchase used Dyslexia curriculum like the some of the one’s you’ve mentioned here? Is there a place to go other than Ebay and Amazon? Thank you so much!

    Reply
  9. Lacie

    HI!!! I’m new to the world of Dyslexia. We’re a military family and are moving to an area where the school system has very little help for my 8 year old son, who was just recently evaluated for dyslexia. I can already tell that it’s going to be a long horrible struggle for us, so I’ve decided to homeschool. After reading through your information I’m wondering if All About reading or Logic of English would be best for beginners. He is in 3rd grade but his reading, writing & spelling are non existent. He gets bored and loses interest very easily.

    Also, he’s currently receiving daily tutoring with a dyslexia counselor at his school. I’m wondering if we would be able to do the same kind of tutoring from home because we can’t afford the $400 a month quote I’ve received from a dyslexia tutor. His current counselor has suggested we use Nessy to supplement when we move. Thank you for your help!!!

    Reply
  10. Melissa

    After reading your post, I think I have found the curriculum that will work well for my boys (Logic of English). Thank you for your post.

    Reply
  11. Sharon Spahr

    My 10 year old is finishing AAR Level 4. He has done well with the program, and I like how there is coverage of “literature” concepts within the phonics. Do you have a suggestion of a curriculum that is reasonably priced and will continue to teach the literature concepts while improving fluency and comprehension? Thanks for your suggestions!

    Reply
    • Marianne

      Hi Sharon. Take a look at Logic of English Essentials program. It is for kids 10+ and has three levels contained in one book. It is a comprehensive upper level English program.

      Reply
  12. Jessalyn

    We are using Reading Reflex for our dyslexic 8yr old, it came with the curriculum we chose to go with and they claim that it is a great remedial book for struggling readers of all kinds. Do you have any experience or opinions on this book at all? Any info or opinions would be appreciated! Thank you ❤️

    Reply
    • Marianne

      Hi Jess. I looked at the Reading Reflex web site and it looks good! How are you liking it so far?

      Reply
  13. Miriam

    Unless I missed it I didn’t see anyone mention Barton reading and spelling. I’ve heard of several people with dyslexia using it. I had it recommended to me by the lady who tested my daughter for having dyslexia. I’m kind of thinking either Barton or All About Reading, wondering if you’ve tried Barton.

    Reply
  14. Angelic

    Just wondering what other people might be doing along with Barton? Does anyone use a certain curriculum for Science or Social Studies etc or solely a reading program?

    Reply
    • Cher

      Barton recommends no outside reading or spelling until a certain level. That being said field trips, documentaries., books you read to your child and audio books along with hands on projects are best for a child just starting Barton lower levels

      Reply
  15. cortnie

    Hello,
    This will be our first year homeschooling. I was wondering which reading program you would think is best for my son. He is 10 and diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia. He also has a fairly poor recognition memory. He has had OG tutoring for the past three years yet he is struggling to read books at a 2 to 3rd grade level.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      Would it be possible to keep tutoring? He may be more profoundly dyslexic.

      Reply

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