Author Archive: Susan Barton

It took until 5th grade . . .

It should not take this long but sadly, it often does, as this parent shared: 

We started our journey in first grade, when our daughter’s teacher shared that she was not grasping reading concepts as fast as she should. I was shocked because I had read to her since she was a baby, and books were a big part of our home.

For the rest of that school year, we spent many long, tearful evenings trying to teach her the sight words. We would go over and over and over them, but she could not retain them.

We also spent at least two hours every night doing homework, and practicing her reading.

Despite that, at the beginning of third grade, she was only reading 27 words per minute – which was at the bottom of her class.

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She also struggled with spelling. I got her list several days early, so we would have extra time to learn the words. It did not help.

Over the years, the teachers said, “It will click one of these days,” or “She is young for her grade,” and “You are doing all the right things at home.” Yet year after year, she spent many long, tearful nights doing homework.

When I asked if she might have a learning disability, the answer was always, “No.”

In fifth grade, we hit a wall. That year, she spent four to five hours a week studying her spelling words – just to get a D.

She also got a D in Social Studies, even though I read the textbook out loud to her, because her vocabulary was way behind.

She began have problems with her peers, partly due to her very low self-esteem.

At the end of some of our homework battles, she began to say she should be dead because she was useless. She stayed up late every night due to anxiety, and she developed depression. We knew we had to do something, but we did not know the cause of her academic struggles.

Then a friend at a party suggested she might have dyslexia. Our life changed that very day.

We decided to homeschool, which our daughter had been begging us to do since first grade, and we began using the Barton System as our language arts curriculum.

I have watched her grow into an amazing person.

I will never forget the day she started reading road signs out loud.

When she finished Level 6, I shared she could now start reading textbooks on her own. For her social studies assignment, there was a five page story to read, then an outline to complete, and comprehension questions to answer. She proudly completed all of it by herself. That was a HUGE self-esteem boost, and it has shown up in all areas of her life.

She now reads books for fun, and she is finally understanding how to spell words.

Homeschool is getting less time consuming as her vocabulary grows because we don’t have to explain as many words before we move forward. She is also better able to recall terms and ideas.

Only a year and a half ago, she was labeled “functionally illiterate.”

I can not thank you enough, Susan Barton, for saving my daughter and bringing my family such peace and happiness!

Please feel free to share our story to bring hope to other families who are still struggling.

Teresa Danelski
Sturgeon Lake, MN

Writing papers in college was so hard . . .

Adults who never got the right type of help in school say that writing papers in college was nearly impossible, as this person shared: 

I just watched your dyslexia video, and my son has almost every single warning signs from preschool to elementary school.

I also have almost every warning sign. I always joked about being “dyslexic” growing up because I was always lost and always getting my left and right confused. But I never realized I had all of the classic signs.

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I barely made it out of high school. I never wanted to go back because school was too painful !!!

I did try a semester at the local junior college, but I dropped out when the first writing assignment was given. I knew I couldn’t do it.

Years later, I took a class at a different junior college that was taught by a friend of mine. It was the most painful thing I have ever done. I did not want to disappoint my friend, so I stuck with it.

I agonized over every writing assignment. She couldn’t figure why it took me hours, and even days, to do such small writing assignments. This was before computers. I had mounds of crumpled papers, and I just about killed myself to get through that course.

I got the 2nd highest grade in the class, yet I still felt stupid because I was the only one who had to work so hard in such an easy class.

That was it. I was done with college.

I don’t want my son to go down that same path. What can I do to help him?

Never in her 13 years of teaching . . .

Teachers are amazed at how rapidly Barton students improve — even when they are tutored by a parent, as this mother shared:  

Thank you so much for developing this program and your great informational videos and website. Without those, I don’t think my daughter would have been diagnosed and gotten the help she needed.

I am currently working on Level 3 with my daughter. Since starting the Barton System, she has shown tremendous progress! Her teacher told us that in her 13 years of teaching experience, she has never seen a student have this much growth in one year! She credits the program and my commitment to it.

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That teacher has been wonderful. She has allowed me to come into the classroom for an hour twice a week to do Barton with my daughter.

By the way, that teacher is now interested in using the Barton System with a few other students she thinks will benefit from it. So that is super exciting!

Jennifer Veras, parent
Modesto, CA

Parent & Teacher Guilt

Parents who are former teachers often feel the most guilt, as this parent shared:  

I cannot tell you how many sad, frustrated tears were cried by both my now second grade son and me during his kindergarten and first grade years.

I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right but kept hearing the all too familiar “it’s developmental” and “he’s doing great and reading at grade level” nonsense — while I kept pointing out what appeared to be weak phonemic awareness and little understanding of how words are formed.

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I refused to let their words appease me and kept researching, learning, and seeking professional input until my suspicion of dyslexia was confirmed.

It absolutely breaks my heart that the teachers at the ground floor of reading instruction in our area know so little about dyslexia.

I am a former high school English teacher who now carries sadness and guilt over the unidentified, defeated students I failed to encourage and help — all because I didn’t know. I wish I could contact each one of them now and put a name on the monster that plagued them and robbed them of their confidence and made school a miserable experience.

Education programs need to do more to train future teachers, and schools need to step up and acknowledge this very common learning difference.

I am confident that my little guy will rise above this and thrive, but I feel like I need to be a voice for the other three kids with dyslexia in his class of 20, and the many more spread throughout the building.

Thank you, Mrs. Barton, for making information about dyslexia accessible and clear. You have lit a fire in me that I hope will spread through our local school district.

Laura Kuster, Teacher and Parent
Eldridge, IA

I feel so lost and alone

Almost every parent I meet has gone through an experience like this:  

Susan, I feel stuck, and I need some advice. My son is having a rough year in 5th grade. After reading some of the articles on your website, I am sure he has dyslexia.

He struggled so much in first grade that his teacher thought he had a Learning Disability. But the school said he was too young to test.

Over the years, he has made some improvement because he works hard, is a pleaser, and most of his teachers love him. In fact, he got straight A’s in 4th grade — with TONS of hard work.

But this year, he has had a one-two punch: a teacher who is not so great, plus he is hitting the “read-to-learn” wall.

I am getting nowhere with the school. They claim he tests “on level,” yet he got a D in Reading on his report card – which seems to alarm no one. When I went to his teacher with my suspicions of dyslexia, she said that in her 23 years of teaching, she had only known 1 kid with dyslexia.

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The Principal (who has a background in Special Ed) said my son might have some decoding issues. So he set up a Child Study Team meeting. But t he team said he was too bright to need help.

I tried to tell them that my 5th grade son just now, finally, learned to tie his shoes (using his own wacky, two-loop method), he cannot name the months in order, and he cannot play a game like Apples to Apples where he has to sound out a word in isolation. So they had the reading specialist assess him. She indeed found some “decoding” issues. She sent home a first grade chunk-matching game. That’s it. I am dumbfounded.

I feel lost and alone with no way to help my son. I live in a town with TWO teaching universities, yet I cannot find anyone who tests for dyslexia, or any professional tutors who are certified in one of the good Orton-Gillingham based programs.

How do I advocate for my child in a school system that deems him too bright?

Since dyslexia affects 1 in 5 kids, I can’t be the only parent feeling so helpless – and so worried about middle school.

Barton System is a Life Changer

The right type of tutoring changes everything — as this parent shares:

The Barton System changed my daughter’s life. She COULD NOT read or spell at all. She was diagnosed with dyslexia in 1st grade, and we immediately started her on this system. I purchased levels 1, 2 and 3 and tutored her myself.

It is incredibly easy to learn this system and then teach it. Susan Barton has done an exemplary job of making a product that will benefit both the student and the tutor.

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My daughter finished all ten levels and is now in 9th grade. She is reading well above grade level, loves sitting in her room reading a novel, and has an A in English — for the third year in a row. She understands the rules of spelling, she knows the strategies needed to read and comprehend, and she is ever so happy.

If you are hesitating on starting your child on this system – DON’T. You will not regret it at all.

I will warn you that it is sometimes tedious and frustrating; however, it makes sense. I will not lie and say that she loved every minute of tutoring. However, she made an enormous amount of progress fairly early on, which gave her the encouragement to keep going.

I cannot emphasize enough just how wonderful this product is. Susan Barton knocked it out of the park with this one. Best purchase ever.

Donna Gisbert, parent
Lakewood, CA

A Dream Come True

Most children with dyslexia LOVE reading books — once they can read easily and accurately, as this mother shares.  

My 13 year old daughter is severely dyslexic. She is getting one-on-one tutoring from a Certified Barton tutor and is near the end of Level 6.

My daughter now loves to read. She carries around books to read. She reads during breaks at school. She reads before she goes to sleep. She begs us to buy books for her, and she is so happy to be reading.

testimonial6testbShe even volunteers to read out loud at school from 7th grade textbooks and other materials — and she’s good at it.

She finally understands the amazing world of printed words, and it is a dream come true for us.

The Barton System and her tutor have been such a blessing to our family.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Claudia Vierra Allen, parent
El Sobrante, CA

 

Amazed with Aidan’s Progress

The reading skills of children with dyslexia will greatly improve when they get the right type of instruction, as this parent shares:  

I am a homeschooling mother of six, and I have been tutoring my ten-year-old fourth grader Aidan for two years now using your program. We are currently on Level 6, Lesson 12.

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Last month, my children and I met with our Florida Certified Home School Evaluator. She is both a Florida teacher and home schooling mom as well. She has been evaluating Aidan and my other children over the past three years for our annual evaluation due to the county.

She was so amazed with Aidan’s progress. She asked him to read from her testing materials, and he read and comprehended all questions asked of him for grades 4, 5, 6, and 7. She believed he could probably have continued reading through eighth grade and above as well!

As I sat listening to him, I was brought to tears.

When we started two years ago, Aidan was the one in tears, and I was at a loss of how to approach his needs.

Aidan is now able to read all assigned book report books for his Seton Home Study School Curriculum, and he is independently reading all instructions and lessons in his workbooks on his own

I must admit that when I read the reviews on your website and ordered my first level of materials, I was skeptical. Now that I have taught the Barton System and have seen my son excel using your system, I have been recommending it to other home schooling mothers who have children with dyslexia.

You have truly created a program that works! I guess the best way to describe my overall experience is that I feel like my child was deaf or blind and can now hear or see.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Mary Beth Cyr
Milton, FL

Susan Barton has a free 30-minute video with advice for homeschool parents using the Barton System.  To watch it, click here.

Adult who regrets being promoted

Emails from adults often break my heart.  We need to help them earlier — to prevent this.  

I found your website last night and wanted to cry.

I’m 45 years old and have suffered with spelling and reading my whole life.

In third grade, I stopped doing homework and just stuffed the sheets in my desk to avoid not knowing how to do it.

I had difficulty with multiplication although I really wanted to learn it. I marveled at the kids who just got it. Telling time was tough, too. I remember my parents bribing me with a calculator and a watch if I could just learn to do my multiplication tables and to tell time.

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In fourth grade, I struggled to the point that they had me tested for all kinds of things. My spelling especially was a problem. But they didn’t really find anything except that I am really good at 3-D thinking and spatial relationships.

They decided it would be best if I just repeated the year. They thought my maturity and confidence would grow if I repeated. My parents also made me read out loud for 30 minutes every day.

This was really tough, but I eventually improved enough not to draw negative attention. I was just really slow, and I had to work really hard to get it or understand it.

Yet even now, I can’t watch movies with subtitles because I can’t read quick enough to get through the entire message before the next one flashes on the screen.

I still have trouble with hand writing words with d’s or b’s or p’s or q’s. They often face the wrong way.

After looking at your website and watching your videos, I see a similarity to some of the traits of dyslexic people.

Although I’ve been in Sales the last 10 years and have won awards, my promotion into Marketing has been a disaster. I’m expected to write things rather than rely on my face-to-face people skills. My managers think I’m lazy or stupid, and I’m struggling to show them my strengths.

I need to be tested for dyslexia to find out if there is a way to improve my writing, reading and spelling. My company wants me to take a business writing course, but I think I might need different help first.

I’ve always had a very strong drive to do well and to learn. It is heartbreaking to me to want to do well and try so hard – but not be successful.

Can you help me?

Best thing I have ever done

Jake wrote this as an assignment during his senior year of high school. Both Jake and his mom have given me permission to share this in the hopes that it will inspire other struggling students.  

The best thing I have ever done
By Jake Pedersen

I was diagnosed with dyslexia right before I entered seventh grade. I was told that my best option was to go to a reading specialist three times a week for roughly three years.

As a stubborn young kid, I imagined that the tutoring would be a waste of time and that I could get along fine without it.

But as my other classmates continued to thrive in the rigorous middle school I attended, I was stuck being able to only read at about a third grade level.

In seventh grade, I was the slowest reader in my class, and I could not comprehend what I was reading. I knew that something had to change.

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As much as I thought that tutoring might be a waste of time, I decided that I should just bite the bullet and go because that was what I needed to do to be able to keep improving in school.

Now that I’m about to graduate from High School, I realize that all of the activities, games, and time with friends I missed to go to tutoring, don’t compare to what I have received from it.

Those three years of work were the best thing I’ve ever done. They helped me get to the point where I am one of the better readers in the class and can keep up with everyone else.

It isn’t always easy to do something that seems like a lot of work, but in the long run, it can open up a million different possibilities.

Jake Pedersen
A Barton Reading & Spelling System Graduate

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