Keys to Success:
What Parents Can Do
#1: Request Classroom Accommodations.
While your child’s reading, spelling, and writing skills are being brought up to grade level by private tutoring in the Barton Reading and Spelling System, he must also receive classroom accommodations in order to emotionally survive school.
Accommodations are strategies that the regular classroom teacher can use to work around dyslexia.
Accommodations allow dyslexic students to learn the subject matter and demonstrate their knowledge outside of conventional strategies, without humiliating them in front of the class in their areas of struggle.
Example: The child's work is graded on content, not spelling.
Children who are not in a Special Education program can get classroom accommodations on a 504 Plan if they have a well-written diagnostic report. Children who are in Special Education should have classroom accommodations included on every I.E.P. (Individualized Education Program).
It is critical that you understand which accommodations your child needs. Even though he is entitled by law to receive them, you need to request them explicitly. So please educate yourself about accommodations by watching Susan Barton's excellent online video.
#2: Do not allow any other reading intervention programs to be administered.
While your child is receiving intensive, one-on-one Orton-Gillingham-based tutoring, please ask the school to refrain from any other type of reading or spelling intervention.
The Barton Reading and Spelling System is a highly specialized approach and it requires a single-minded focus on the part of the student. Additional forms of reading instruction will create confusion and cause her to begin “guess-reading.”
This will slow her progress in tutoring. So keep things simple and stick solely with Barton.
#3: Provide alternatives to writing.
Writing difficulties can pose a huge challenge to people with dyslexia. There are ways to avoid subjecting them to unnecessary frustration and failure in the area of writing.
• Keyboarding is much easier for most dyslexic people than writing. Therefore, it is critical that they learn to type. Get your child set up with a program such as “Type To Learn” from Sunburst Software, or free online programs such as www.TypingWeb.com. Learning to type can revolutionize her life!
• Purchase a voice-recognition software, such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking, that enables the student to dictate into the computer and have their words typed for them. Get information online at
• Have your child dictate to you while you write it down for her.
#4: Do not require your child to read.
Students receiving this tutoring should not be asked to read for themselves; parents need to read TO them instead. When they attempt to read, it forces them to "guess-read,” which defeats the purpose of the principles they are learning in tutoring. NO TEXTBOOK READING should be allowed until the end of Level Six. (There are ten levels in this program).
#5: Read with them and TO them daily.
Please read to your child every day. Don’t turn this into an instruction time. Just curl up together with a book and let him sit back, relax, and enjoy! This habit is essential for their progress in tutoring, because hearing stories will give them ongoing exposure to the flow of reading, and to increasingly sophisticated vocabulary. This will contribute greatly to their success in this program, in school, and in life.
You can also provide your child with audio recordings from the local library or from Learning Ally at
www.learningally.org. There are other excellent sources for audio recordings as well. For a helpful list of good books and videos, go to www.BrightSolutions.US and click on the “To Learn More” button.
Reading for school: Your child should have accommodations that allow assigned reading to be read to them, either by another person or by a text-to-speech device. Listening to books ("ear-reading") is just as valid a means of acquiring knowledge as "eye reading." They share the same purpose: to gain information and learn about the world.
#6: Increase the frequency of tutoring during the summer.
Be intentional about helping your child identify and develop her interests and talents. Here are some common areas of strength in individuals who are dyslexic:
Art, graphic design, athletics, music, cooking, gardening, nature, outdoor activities, animals, pet-care, dance, computers, drama, mechanics, building or fixing things, activities that use logic and strategic thinking, science, medicine, travel, emergency response, hair-styling/beauty skills, "people skills," and anything hands-on!
In addition, be sure to emphasize his personality strengths! Which of these describe your child?
Trustworthy, respectful, kind, honest, generous, adventurous, ambitious, creative, friendly, patient, compassionate, loving, optimistic, persevering, disciplined, hard-working, helpful, humorous, imaginative, curious, intuitive, determined, clever, capable, courageous, cheerful, empathetic, insightful, visionary, easygoing, articulate, dedicated, high-energy, enthusiastic, free-thinking, flexible, logical, calm, fun-loving, thoughtful, responsible, gracious, loyal, fair, efficient, dependable, able to think "outside-the-box."
Don't let your child's sense of value be diminished by a weakness in reading and spelling. Help her build her identity around her strengths. Empower her to move forward with confidence and make her contribution to the world!
#7: Educate yourself about Dyslexia.
Although tutoring greatly improves a dyslexic student’s reading, spelling, and basic writing skills, it doesn't “cure” them. Dyslexia is a genetic trait that will impact your child's life in many ways for the rest of his life. The better you understand it, the more you will be able to help her understand it and work around it.
A must-read (or must-listen): The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss. Start reading this book ASAP!
In addition, the more familiar you are with dyslexia, the better equipped and confident you will be to advocate for your child. I urge you to avail yourself of the many excellent resources online, including a website produced by Susan Barton, called Bright Solutions for Dyslexia: www.BrightSolutions.US
Excerpted and adapted from “What Parents Should -- and Should NOT – Do”
by Susan Barton, Developer of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, Used with permission.