Every child has their own unique learning journey, and for some, reading is a challenge.  Homeschooling offers a unique opportunity to tailor education to meet the specific needs of our children, especially those who are struggling. If you think your child has a reading struggle such as dyslexia, its essential to provide a supportive and nurturing environment that caters to their individual needs.  In this blog post, we will explore how homeschooling can benefit struggling readers, highlight the Orton-Gillingham approach, and discuss curriculum choices that align with this effective teaching method.
Let me first say that I am not a reading specialist or expert in dyslexia.  I do however, hold a B.S. in Learning Disabilities and taught children with all kinds of Learning Disabilities in public school prior to homeschooling. I have 3 children and have had 3 different experiences in teaching them reading. Two of my three would be considered as kids with reading struggles.  One of those two (although not officially diagnosed) has suspected dyslexia or at least the signs are there.

Understanding Dyslexia:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to read, spell, and process language. It is essential to recognize that dyslexia is not indicative of a lack of intelligence or effort. Instead, it is a neurobiological condition that requires specialized instruction. Homeschooling provides an opportunity to create a personalized learning environment that addresses the specific needs of children with reading struggles including dyslexia.  By tailoring your instruction to their strengths and learning strategies that help their areas of struggle, you can help them thrive academically and gain confidence!

The Orton-Gillingham Approach:

One highly effective teaching method for individuals with dyslexia (or any struggling reader) is the Orton-Gillingham approach (O-G). Developed in the 1930s by Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham, this multi-sensory, structured, and explicit approach focuses on teaching reading, spelling, and writing skills. It breaks down language into its component parts and uses a systematic, step-by-step approach to help struggling readers develop essential skills.  This is a phonics based program that helps children learn the rules and procedures involved in reading that some kids just get naturally.

The core principles of the Orton-Gillingham approach involve:

  1. Multi-sensory Instruction: Using as many of the senses simultaneously helps reinforce learning.  Incorporating visual, auditory and kinesthetic elements provides struggling readers with various ways of grasping and retaining the information.
  2. Systematic Instruction: Breaking down language concepts into manageable parts and teaching the rules and patters fosters a deeper understanding of language structure.
  3. Individual Approach: Each kid is different.  The Orton-Gillingham approach emphasizes customization.  Lessons can and should be adapted to each child’s needs and learning styles so there is meaningful progress.

Curriculum Choices

There are several homeschooling curriculum choices that align with the O-G method.  Some are expensive and may even require outside tutoring and others are very affordable.  Any and all of these choices are great choices and would be good with all children learning to read at any age.

    1. Logic of English: This curriculum is a very multi-sensory approach to reading.  The step by step approach helps children from non-reading to emerging or struggling to learn the concepts of phonics and the relationship between the letters and their sounds.  Speech (correct formation of mouth and tongue while making sounds) as well as some broader language arts concepts (punctuation and grammar) are also introduced.  Each level has a teachers guide, student activity book, and readers.  Also needed are the phoneme cards.  There are several other add on items such as the letter tiles and game cards that are very fun as well.
    2. All About Reading: This is a comprehensive program that combines phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension activities.  It incorporates multi-sensory techniques and provides step-by-step lessons plans, making it accessible for both parents and students.  It is an open and go progr
    3. am without the need for pre-planning.  This curriculum comes with the teacher guide, student activity book (worksheets, activities, etc), readers, letter tiles, and phoneme/word cards.

Barton Reading & Spelling System: Developed specifically for students with dyslexia, the Barton System is a structured and systematic approach to phonics. It includes scripted lessons and letter tiles.  It is widely acclaimed for its effectiveness in teaching reading and spelling to individuals with dyslexia. The downside to this curriculum is that it is much more expensive.  The program can be purchased for at-home use or through certified paid tutors.

  1. Wilson Reading System: Widely used in schools and at home, it’s also based on the O-G approach.  It is systematic and incremental as well and doesn’t require pre-planning.  The difference here is that student don’t rely on letter tiles, but instead they learn to mark the sounds and words. It is multi-sensory as well.
  2. Explode the Code: This is a series of workbooks on phonics and phonemic awareness.  It is simple and easy to use with no prep.  The teacher guide is simple and easily explains how to introduce concepts and do activities to reinforce the skills learned.  It is NOT scripted but that won’t make it any harder.  They also have an online version available.  These are also great to use as extra practice or a supplement to any other phonics curriculum.

My Personal Experience


My oldest child (a boy) was a struggling reader. I thought maybe his difficulty was due to the fact that he was the first child I was teaching to read. I switched around from different curriculums and kind of floundered myself.  By the time he was in 2nd grade and still struggling, I knew I had to do something different.  I started with All About Spelling (they didn’t have All About Reading yet but it used the same approach….basically we didn’t worry if he could spell the word, just if he could READ the words).  I also added Explode the Code.  Using All About Spelling was a bit dry honestly.  There was no fun or frills. It’s a solid phonics program (or spelling) and it was simple and easy to use.  We used the letter tiles and followed the lessons going as fast or slow as we needed.  Each day there were phoneme (sound) cards and letter cards to review or learn.  Eventually we added the word cards to read.  We reviewed our “review” pile, added new ones as the book told us to, and when the cards were “mastered” they went in the “mastered” pile.  There weren’t very many game type things, but there were some worksheets, cut and paste, etc..  We used Level 2-4 and by the end of level 4 he suddenly made huge gains and took off in reading.  He’s not an adult and a great reader!

My middle child (girl) was a typical learner and didn’t seem to have any issues with reading.  We used Explode the Code for supplement but we used My Father’s World for her just for the Reading/Phonics aspect.  She loved the workbook and the Bible Reader and it worked well for her.

My last child (boy) is currently 8 years old. He’s struggled over the past 2 years with reading.  Knowing what I know and my past experience and degree in Learning Disabilities, I knew he needed an O-G approach.  I had already purchased the All About Reading curriculum and used it previously with him ag age 5-6.  At the time he didn’t seem ready to make much progress and I thought it was just his age (and that was probably most of it).  We relaxed a bit and did some Bob Books, and I started Explode the Code.

By the end of his 2nd grade year, he still wasn’t reading and I could see some red flags that had me concerned. My friend recommended Logic of English so we started Foundations A of that curriculum.  He really liked it because it had so many games and interactive activities.  We got almost done with Foundations B and just seemed to be struggling still.  At that point I wanted some outside opinions so we met with a Barton tutor.  Although she couldn’t diagnose dyslexia, she could work with him and tell me what she thought based on her experience.  After a few times with her, she said he showed all the same signs that her dyslexic students showed and that there was a high chance that was his issue as well.  We spent the summer doing 2x a week with her and it made a huge difference.

We are now starting Foundations C and seeing some big improvements. It’s still an uphill battle since another common sign of dyslexia is what I call the “leaky bucket syndrome” as information goes it and their brain holds that information, some is leaking out.  There is a need to re-teach things you thought they knew well.  It will continue to take patience, but I think we will see some great improvements in the next year.  He also continues to use Explode the Code for some independent review and we use Bob Books in addition to the Logic of English readers.

I’m also excited to start the online supplement for Logic of English level C. He loves being on the computer so that will hopefully help and give him some independent time as well.

Overall Curriculum Thoughts

Overall I love All About Reading and Logic of English and think they are both amazing curriculums to use with any child.  They are both easy to use, not too expensive, and you can pick it up and go…. no prep work! Explode the Code seems like more of a supplement to me, but if you use the Teachers Guide to add to the workbook, you’ll create a more stand-alone program!  Barton and Wilson are more intensive but also incredible. They are scripted so you can easily follow along and know that you’re teaching it correctly! Personally I would use the Barton and Wilson curriculums only if you feel you need more intensive remediation.

My Words of Wisdom

First let me say don’t wait! I’ve told people so many times that kids will read when they read.  Don’t rush.  If they aren’t getting it, maybe they just need more time.  While this is true, I think it can also potentially cause a child who needed early intervention to fall behind and not get the help they needed earlier! I wish I would have taken action earlier with my 8 year old.

Trust your gut! If you feel like there’s something wrong, find out.  Find a reading tutor, search for an online screening, find someone who has a dyslexic child and talk to them about the red flags.  And here’s the best news….. using these O-G curriculums won’t ever hurt!  They are proven curriculums to teach ANYONE to read! There’s no harm in using them with any and all of your children.


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Do you have littles? Want to start them out strong? Try these letters and phonics resources from our store!

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