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.
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.
Sturgeon Lake, MN
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Words cannot express my gratitude for all you do for children with dyslexia.
I contacted you last fall when I was having difficulties with my two children in school. Your patience, gentleness and compassion gave me the hope that my children would be OK, and you gave me the courage to take their education into my own hands.
I read everything I could on your website, all of your links, your newsletters, and everything everyone posted. I came to realize that my children would not reach their full potential in a traditional school environment until after they completed the Barton System.
So my husband and I purchased a 20’ x 12’ shed with a loft. We turned it into a one room school house, where I spend every day educating 2 of my 4 children. We use the same curriculum that the school they previously attended uses, plus 45 minutes of individual Barton tutoring, 5 days a week.
The day we brought our children home, we made this video for our own personal benefit. I had watched and loved “Sophia’s Fight Song,” and I wanted my children to have a video like that of their own.
The progress they have made in just 7 months is truly astonishing! So today, we made a second video. If you watch them both, the progress they’ve made is undeniable.
I have NO regrets on taking your advice to do it myself at home. I have NO regrets for deciding to home school, and I have NO regrets that a 20’ x 12’ shed is sitting in my backyard instead of the built-in pool we had been saving for.
We have time again to laugh, play, and have fun! We had lost that for a little while to tears, arguments, and the frustration of (not) learning while trying to complete endless worksheets that did not make sense.
My husband and I thank you, my children thank you, and I know we are just one of many families who have been blessed by you.
Kimm Pasmore, Homeschool Parent
Spring Hill, FL
P.S. I never intended to show these videos to anyone outside of family. But so many friends have asked about my children and their progress, and I felt like they did not believe me when I told them how far my kids have come. So now I show them these two videos, and they can see it for themselves.
By Sally Miles
Shared with prior written permission
As a teacher, dyslexia therapist (ALTA), mother and grandmother of two brilliant dyslexics, and someone who loves learning, I do my best every day to meet the needs of my students in my 3rd grade class. I fail every day, but we forgive and move on.
I do my best to address teaching in an Orton-Gillingham based manner for every subject. Not every student I have is dyslexic, but every child can benefit.
My students have so many needs that even though I truly put forth the effort, my brain and my heart cannot possibly think of everything that every child needs during every moment of every day. Among the children I greet every morning are those diagnosed and undiagnosed dyslexic children, a hearing impaired child with cerebral palsy, diagnosed and undiagnosed children with ADHD, auditory processing disorders, language disorders and autism, English as a second language, children who go to bed unfed since they left school, children who are abused, and children who are neglected.
Even though I try to meet every single need of your child, I’m going to fail. So before you call me out on Facebook, talk to me! Tell me, in a kind way, what your child needs that I am not doing.
Remember, the things your child needs that I’m trying to do . . . may be met with resistance by other parents because I teach in a way that is different, or their child may have very different needs.
Remember that I am human and may forget simply because I have so many different needs swirling through my head.
Remember that my goal is to teach all of your children, every day, with the “right” way for your child, and I will fail. I will get up again the next day and try to do better.
But it is easier if you tell me what your child needs . . . rather than think I’m too ignorant, I don’t care, I’m lazy, or I’m just another part of an often-broken system.
If you have ever watched one of your own children struggle for years in school due to undetected dyslexia, you will step in faster when your next child starts to struggle – as this parent did.
Our story is so similar to other families I have met: the daily homework struggles, tears of frustration over a worksheet that takes other kids only a few minutes to complete, “wait and see” advice from some teachers, and “your daughter is too smart to be dyslexic” from others. I have never felt so helpless.
But when Lillian was in second grade, we were so lucky to have a teacher who pulled me aside and recommended we go outside of the school system to get a private evaluation, and lucky that the evaluator recommended the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
When we started the Barton System, Lillian was in the spring of second grade, reading at a beginning first grade level. We worked very hard to close the gap, tutoring 30 minutes every day (and increased it to an hour a day during the summer).
When Lillian took her state reading test in the spring of third grade, she scored in the “meets grade level” category – only 4 points away from “exceeds.”
Now, after her second year of tutoring, she is able to read books at her interest level, and we often catch her reading just for fun – which means more to us than any test result. The growth we have seen in her confidence and self-esteem is priceless.
I have also benefited from your program. It is so empowering to finally be able to understand how to help my kids learn to read, and to speak knowledgeably with their teachers.
But more importantly, I was able to avoid struggle and failure with my younger son Nate, who was 5 1/2 when we had his sister evaluated. Nate had almost every early warning sign for dyslexia. So I started working with him at that time (in shorter sessions), and he has learned to read solely through the Barton System. We had him privately evaluated at the beginning of his first grade year, and Nate was reading at a mid-second grade level!
Nate is a poster-child for the importance of early intervention. I recently spoke about my experience tutoring my own kids when I testified before the Oregon Senate Committee on Education in support of our dyslexia bill.
Thank you again for creating such an accessible, affordable program, and for being so helpful and available when I had questions. My kids now have a limitless future, and your program allowed me to give it to them. We are so incredibly grateful.
Happy Valley, OR
It takes a lot of courage to pull your child out of public school and start homeschooling. And it requires a lot of work. But most parents of children with dyslexia will tell you that homeschooling was the best thing they ever did.
This homeschool parent’s story is so typical.
Susan, I just have to share what that my son’s (homeschool) teacher posted today. We are on Level 4 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System. He is in 4th grade.
Last year, in public school, he hit the “brick wall” and cried every day. He hated school. He hated the fact that his little sister could read better than he could. His self-esteem was nonexistent. The school refused to do ANYTHING even though we had a diagnosis of dyslexia.
So this year, in an effort to salvage whatever self-worth he had left, we decided to homeschool.
Today, I received this email from his homeschool teacher. THIS is what happens when you use EVIDENCE BASED methods that are proven to work with a dyslexic child!
Subject: Music to my ears
My son: I’m going to have to read all the way home because I want to know what is going to happen next. Can I just read it now?
Teacher: No, that’s homework.
My son: But I want to know now.
This is coming from a boy who has NEVER enjoyed reading in his life because of dyslexia and the use of ineffective reading methods in the past. Now he can’t put his book down. Proud teacher moment!
Susan, thank you for everything you do to help our kids, and to educate us and guide us in advocating for them along this rocky journey. You are an angel to many.
Homeschool parent in CT