The sooner a dyslexic child is identified and receives appropriate instruction, the better the outcome.  Consider:

  • A child who can't read on grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.  (Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins University study, 2011)
  • Poor readers were three times more likely than typical readers to consider or attempt suicide, and six times more likely to drop out of school.  (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study, 2006)

For these reasons, and because many Iowa schools do not yet provide the kind of instruction dyslexics need, we recommend tutoring your child in reading and/or any other subjects of concern.  Some parents hire a tutor, while others work directly with their child.  Some factors to consider when making this decision are your financial resources (hiring a tutor is typically more expensive), your child's willingness to work with you, and your willingness to research and learn the necessary materials.

The type of instruction most dyslexics benefit from is called Structured Literacy.  Structured Literacy approaches systematically and sequentially teach the sounds and symbols of our language.  Many are based on the works for Dr. Samuel Orton and Dr. Anna Gillingham and are known as Orton Gillingham methods.   They are:

  • Explicit:  No knowledge or skills are assumed.  All students start at the beginning.
  • Multisensory:  All of the senses are engaged during lessons (speaking, listening, writing, tactile).
  • Systematic and Cumulative:  Lessons are taught in order with none skipped.  Each lesson builds on previous learning.
  • Student-Paced and Taught to Mastery:  Students do not move on until the content is learned to automaticity.

To learn more, read the International Dyslexia Association's fact sheet Effective Instruction for Students with Dyslexia.

Decoding Dyslexia Iowa maintains a list of Iowa tutors who use Orton Gillingham methods.  Contact us  and we'd be happy to email you the list.   We maintain it as a resource for Iowans, but we do not endorse any individual or organization on the list.  We recommend that you conduct a thorough evaluation of anyone you are considering. These questions can guide you.

Tutoring prices vary by location and by tutor qualifications.  If you cannot afford tutoring, please see our Homeschooling page for curriculum ideas to use when working with your own child.