When parents first learn that their child has dyslexia, emotions range from relief for having found the culprit responsible for their child’s learning struggles to being overwhelmed by the road ahead. The first question asked is usually, “How do we get help for our child?” Upon examining options, parents in Texas are fortunate to discover that there are educational laws protecting and providing for their child. Schools provide programs for dyslexia that allow a child to be taught in a better way within small groups. Is there a case, however, when a student might benefit from a one-on-one setting with a tutor that can individualize instruction for that particular child? The answer is yes!
Dyslexia has many degrees of severity ranging from mild to profound. The small group setting and some Orton- Giillingham based curriculums may not provide strong enough instruction or support for the child with severe dyslexia. One-on-one tutoring allows the tutor to pace lessons according to the individual need and provide more intense practice if needed. Although dyslexia has classic characteristics, as a tutor for almost ten years, I have found that each of my students is very unique and needs help with specific skills that are different from every other student, even when dealing with moderate, or “classic”, degrees of dyslexia.
Along with the severity of dyslexia, the complexity of issues associated with dyslexia makes each learner unique as well. Issues that commonly accompany dyslexia are dysgraphia and ADHD. Sometimes nonverbal learning disability is a coexisting issue as well. The way these issues impact the learner has definite implications pointing to the advantage of one-on-one tutoring. The tutor must be able to adapt objectives to include activities related to coexisting diagnoses. For example, handwriting skills for dysgraphia should be taught separately from spelling skills until the student can handle thinking about both simultaneously. That point may be different amongst students. Students with ADHD need more movement activities to shift their brain back into gear when tired. Those without ADHD do not need the same pace adaptations. Students with nonverbal learning disability may need to be slowed down in order to correct bad habits of guessing that have been advantageous to them up to a point. They may need more understanding when something doesn’t quite make sense. Along with severity, complexity must be taken into account.
Finally, instruction within small groups requires more time to make progress because instruction time is multiplied by the number of students within the small group and must be paced to accommodate the slowest learner. Therefore, students may not reach goals any higher than to arrive at grade-level reading skills before being exited from the program.
Because dyslexia requires instruction that is direct and understanding is never assumed, every step within the Orton-Gillingham sequence must be explicitly taught. Students who exit a program reading at the fifth-grade reading level will continue to struggle unnecessarily in subsequent years. One-on-one instruction with the Barton Reading & Spelling System takes students to the ninth-grade reading level and perhaps beyond. Nothing is assumed and students acquire the skills they will need to succeed in high school with academic language. While reading speed will always be impacted, and students may continue to benefit from audio books to keep up with demanding assignment loads, Barton Scholars who finish all ten levels have the skills to sound out any unknown word. Accuracy in reading results in better comprehension.
In summary, yes, the advantages of one-on-one tutoring are great. The severity and complexity of learning differences as well as the opportunity to go further make a strong case for the option of one-on-one tutoring. If your child has benefited from a school program for dyslexia but still struggles with spelling, Barton is one of the strongest Orton-Gillingham influenced programs for teaching spelling. Please do not stop instruction if your child is not reading on at least the ninth-grade level. Consider Mrs. K. Tutoring to provide the added support your child will need to continue growing and flourishing with confidence!