It can be easy to take literacy for granted in our daily lives. For many, learning the structure of language happens at a young age, and we forget that reading, spelling, and writing are very complex tasks.
For children with complex challenges, however, literacy can be one of the most significant areas of need and support.
When a student struggles with literacy, it impacts all areas of learning. At The Quaker School at Horsham, this is where a specialized method of literacy instruction comes in.
It’s called the Orton-Gillingham Approach, and it teaches decoding (sounding out words), reading comprehension, vocabulary development, grammar, spelling, and the enjoyment of the spoken and written word. Here’s how it is described by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (OGA):
Orton-Gillingham is not a set curriculum, but rather a philosophy of teaching, an approach involving students more actively in learning the structure of language. The approach is based on years of brain research on effective methods for teaching reading and spelling. You will not find a book or a curriculum that is set as the Orton-Gillingham method. Teachers who are trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach teach by employing the guiding principles of the approach.
The principles are that teaching is diagnostic and prescriptive; individualized; language-based, multisensory; direct and explicit; structured, sequential, cumulative, and flexible; synthetic and analytic; cognitive; and emotionally sound.
What does that mean? Students understand the reasons behind what they are learning and the learning strategies they are employing.
The approach is rigorously evidence-based, yet it gives teachers flexibility in how its methods apply to each student. Educators must complete a rigorous certification process in order to implement the approach in their classrooms – and as a Fellow associated with the OGA, I have had the pleasure of delivering Classroom Educator coursework and practicum support for many TQS teachers.
At TQS, faculty are applying the OG Approach specifically in reading and language arts classes. They’re using it to break down and scaffold instruction in order to meet the unique needs of the individual students in their classrooms. The goal is to support student success and give them the tools to unlock language.
To date, 10 TQS teachers have completed or are taking part in OG certification, spending hundreds of hours improving their craft in order to support their students’ continual learning and growth.
While this process takes time, I always say to those who I am training: “Go as fast as you can, but as slow as you MUST!” The result is a literacy program that truly supports every TQS student.
Do you have questions about the Orton-Gillingham Approach at TQS? Contact us to learn more about our academic programs and expert team of specialists.