Learning how to learn is one of the greatest gifts a child can receive.

At Sage School, students are presented with the tools and strategies to unlock the code of the English language. Language instruction and Orton-Gillingham remediation form the core of the education of a Sage School student. The instruction is multi-sensory, direct, and explicit.

Our approachOrton-Gillingham remediation, the best education a student with dyslexia can receive, is a multi-sensory approach to teaching children to read and write. While our approach is structured, sequential, and cumulative, it is also individualized to meet the needs of the learner. Rather than rote learning, our tutors address the language cognitively, teaching the student how the language works. An Orton-Gillingham classroom provides individualized instruction to meet the students’ needs in the areas of encoding, spelling, handwriting, written expression, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.

This educational philosophy teaches the structure of the English language in a multi-sensory, structured, sequential, and organized manner. In this way, the dyslexic student can internalize the rule structure of our language. Students learn a rule-based system for both decoding and applying spelling generalizations.

Letters and sounds are first taught separately through auditory, visual, and kinesthetic linkages. Then they are blended together to form words for reading and spelling. More advanced students learn to identify the prefixes, roots, and suffixes as meaningful units of words. Reading and spelling tasks are carefully designed so the student has success without relying on guessing.

The individual words are then put together to form sentences. Later, students learn to identify the structure of written passages, to write the outline of a passage, and to create a well-constructed report.

Sage School tutors have extensive training and experience in the Orton-Gillingham approach. Our content teachers are trained at the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators resulting in a cohesive team. Therefore, as students moves through their daily class schedules, they experience consistency in the manner they are taught.

The Orton-Gillingham approach

The Orton-Gillingham Approach was named for a neurologist and pathologist, Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948) and a psychologist and educator, Anna Gillingham (1878-1963).

Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948), a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist, was a pioneer in focusing attention on reading failure and related language processing difficulties. He brought together néuroscientific information and principles of remediation. As early as 1925, he had identified the condition of dyslexia as a medical diagnosis requiring an educational treatment.

Anna Gillingham (1878-1963) was a gifted educator and psychologist with a superb mastery of the language. Working with Dr. Orton, she trained teachers and compiled and published instructional materials based on Dr. Orton’s theories.

See how our approach compares to conventional classroom instruction.

Tenants of the Orton-Gillingham Approach

Diagnostic and Prescriptive

Always the teacher seeks to understand how an individual learns and to devise appropriate teaching strategies. Each lesson is planned for a particular student. Infinitely adaptable, Orton-Gillingham is flexible; it is an approach rather than a system.

Direct and Explicit

The instructor presents the material in direct and explicit fashion. Never is the student expected to know anything that has not been taught and practiced.

Language Based

The Orton-Gillingham approach is based on a technique of studying and teaching language and the understanding of the nature of human language, the mechanisms involved in learning, and the language learning process in individuals.


The Orton-Gillingham approach is multi-sensory. Sessions are action-oriented with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements reinforcing each other for optimal learning. Spelling is taught simultaneously with reading. In this respect Orton-Gillingham differs from traditional phonics instruction.

Structured, Sequential And Cumulative, but Flexible

The elements of the language are introduced systematically. Students begin by reading words and writing sounds in isolation. These are blended into syllables and words. The various elements of the language (consonants, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs) are introduced in orderly fashion. As students learn new material in a structured, sequential, and cumulative manner they continue to review old material for mastery.


Students learn about the history of the language and study the many generalizations and rules which govern its structure. Repeatedly, they are encouraged to think rather than to guess.

Emotionally Sound

Because old material is constantly reviewed and new material is introduced systematically, the student experiences a high degree of success in every lesson and gains in confidence in skills. Thus, self-esteem develops directly from the student’s achievement, and learning becomes a positive experience.