If you cannot read, you will struggle to succeed in our society. As students progress in school they are require to read an increasing number of texts that include the vocabulary of math, literature, science, art, geography and history. The language styles of these texts are not uniform, and require a deep knowledge of our complex "code" to read and understand. Students with dyslexia find learning to read (decoding) and spell (encoding) difficult. They struggle to extract meaning from text and to express themselves accurately in writing.
Students with dyslexia read slowly, laboriously, deciphering text letter-by-letter, leaving little mental capacity to contemplate the meaning being conveyed or the literary devices employed. Reading for these students becomes a task to avoid. Early in their school life, a vicious cycle develops where weak readers avoid reading and fall behind. Good readers gain knowledge and confidence while struggling readers may find much of the curriculum inaccessible and experience diminished self-confidence. Similar patterns of behavior occur when learning to spell and communicate in writing. Dyslexic students find learning to spell very challenging. This in turn hampers their choice of words used in writing passages, which is not an accurate reflection of their knowledge.
We know how to help students with dyslexia to read and spell thanks to the work of Dr. Orton, Anna Gillingham and their pioneering colleagues, who developed a unique language pedagogy in the early 1900's. Claremont School has based their curriculum on the Orton-Gillingham Approach (OGA) and created a complete language program for elementary students struggling to learn to read and spell. We call this Practical Linguistics and it incorporates best practices in the field of language instruction.
Having used the OGA/Practical Linguistics Approach with my dyslexic students and seen for myself how empowering and life-changing his approach is, I was determined to start my own common-sense revolution in the world of special education. To that end, with the help of the students and teachers at the Claremont School, I have created a reading and spelling curriculum accessible to teachers around the world called The Great Word House™ (GWH). Our therapeutic teaching is now available to the many students who need our help. Claremont School is at the forefront of teacher training and publishing in the field of reading and spelling education.
Our mission is to teach students with dyslexia, so that they may fulfill their considerable potential and gain the skills and self-confidence needed for academic success.
Evelyn Reiss, B. Sc., M.A.
Principal, The Claremont School