What is Wilson Reading?

If your child or anyone you know has been diagnosed with any form of dyslexia, then you may have heard of the Wilson Reading Program.  Wilson Reading is our most requested tutoring for students with dyslexia or difficulty with decoding and fluency, and we have many clients referred to us with the recommendation that they look into Wilson Reading for their child.

However, many parents who call have only a vague idea of what Wilson Reading is.  Not knowing anything about the program can make it difficult to determine if it will be the best fit for your child.  The more I learn about Wilson Reading, the more I realize how complex and detailed it is, which is what makes it so effective for students who need it.

For other students, the Wilson program might be a more intensive intervention than what is necessary, and there may be a better option for them.  In these cases, we have many tutors who have been trained in several reading programs and who can provide a more customized curriculum that will appropriately meet your child’s needs.

I’ve provided an overview of the Wilson Reading Program for you to read so that you can get an idea of whether or not it would be the best option for your child.  I hope that this provides some clarity!

The Orton-Gillingham Approach

Wilson Reading is a program that falls under the “Orton-Gillingham Umbrella.”  The Orton-Gillingham Approach was first created in the 1930’s to treat dyslexia in adults.  It was originally created by a neuropsychiatrist (Orton) and a psychologist and educator (Gillingham) based off research that they had done over the years.

The theory behind the Orton-Gillingham approach is that dyslexia needs to be treated through the study of the English language.  The lessons are multi-sensory, structured, sequential, and cumulative.  However, they also require flexibility for each individual learner.  That is to say each student will take a different amount of time to complete various levels and may need more repetition than others.  In this approach, it is more important to fully master each level than to move quickly.

Wilson Reading is one program that was created using the Orton-Gillingham approach as a foundation.  There are many programs that fall under the Orton-Gillingham umbrella, but Wilson is one of the most popular and well-respected versions.  Its popularity can be attributed to the constant change of pace, the well-develop materials, and the ability of the instructor to vary the pace depending on the student’s needs.

Every Wilson Reading System lesson has 10 different steps.  The first six steps are for developing decoding skills (reading), steps 7 and 8 are for encoding (spelling), and steps 9 and 10 are for fluency.

1. Sound drills using color-coded cards;

2. Reviewing decoding concepts using cards;

3. Whole-word reading using flashcards;

4. Reading word lists and charting accuracy;

5. Reading sentences in controlled text;

6. Quick Sound Drill in reverse using magnet boards or color-coded cards;

7. Teaching and reviewing concepts for spelling;

8. Dictation work;

9. Reading passages from controlled text;

10. Listening comprehension activities.

Who Needs Wilson Reading?

For students who are having great difficulty decoding words, are behind their peers, or are making little progress on developing their decoding skills because of their frustration level, Wilson can be a great option. Wilson tutors typically meet with their students 2-3 times per week, and the program can last for two years.  It is very comprehensive and thorough and ensures that students have mastered every aspect of decoding by its endpoint.  It requires a lot of commitment on the family’s part due to the fact that its success relies on consistent sessions.

However, there are many cases when Wilson would be effective for a child, but it isn’t the best fit.  Although your child may need some support in developing better decoding and fluency skills, Wilson may not be the best fit.    It may be that your child needs work with phonics and decoding, but that they would benefit from meeting with a tutor once per week and also working on reading comprehension, or just focusing on a specific aspect of decoding.

Your child’s teachers and doctors, as well as our staff, can help you determine if Wilson is going to be the best option.

How Can I Get a Wilson Tutor?

In order for someone to be an effective Wilson tutor, it’s important that they complete an intensive training and also regularly use the program.  The lessons are fast-paced and have a lot of steps, and the decoding and encoding techniques require the ability to quickly and accurately break language down into individual sounds.

For this reason, Wilson tutors can be hard to come by.  However, we do have a core group of great Wilson tutors on staff.  If you think you may be interested, it is good to call as far ahead of when want to get started as possible, and also to provide a lot of flexibility in your schedule.