What is Structured Literacy?

A structured literacy approach (aka, Orton-Gillingham) to therapy helps children overcome reading, spelling, and writing difficulties associated with learning disabilities. Developed in the early 1900’s, Orton-Gillingham is considered the “gold standard” for therapy due to almost 35 years of research supporting its effectiveness.

More recently called structured literacy, the method centers on several bedrock principles I’ve articulated and explained below, while also describing how Lexercise incorporates these principles into our online therapy.

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this:  Structured literacy is a science-backed, comprehensive approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling that is widely accepted as the world’s most effective way to teach literacy and to help struggling readers and writers. 

Components of Structured Literacy

dyslexic boy, Orton-GillinghamMulti-Sensory

In an Orton-Gillingham (structured literacy) approach sounds and letters are taught to your child using three main sensory pathways: sight, sound, and movement. Using learning pathways alongside explicit instruction makes it easier for students to remember and apply concepts when needed. This multi-sensory approach makes learning an active rather than passive process, scaffolding memory and making reading and spelling more automatic.

Ordered Logically

We teach the structure of the English language to your child in an organized and systematic way. This therapy covers reading, spelling, and writing simultaneously, so your child experiences how they relate to each other. Our clinicians guide your child through therapy at a crisp pace, while still making sure that we do not move on until he/she masters the concepts and skills taught.


Your child is unique, so our expert therapists must individualize therapy to his/her needs. In the hands of our qualified structured literacy therapists, students who have struggled for years in school show tremendous progress in only a few months. In between our weekly lessons, your therapist will customize online games and provide you with tabletop activities to reinforce what your child is learning in his/her sessions.

Sequenced and Cumulative

Weekly lessons start from simple to more complex tasks, while also providing a review of prior concepts. Our scope and sequence use a structured literacy progression, including (a) the six syllable types of English for reading and spelling vowels and (b) scientific word inquiry methods for understanding the meaning of parts of words (basis and affixes). Using this framework helps to give context to new concepts while activating and building upon prior knowledge.


We teach your child to think through reading and spelling instead of just guessing. Even phonetically “irregular” words make perfect sense when they are properly understood. For example, the spelling of the word <two> makes sense in connection with the number “2” and its word relatives <twelve>, <twenty>, <twin>, <twine> and <twist>. Since we teach your child how to think about and understand words, it takes the guesswork out of reading, spelling and writing.  Words are understood at a deep level, improving both comprehension and expression.

dyslexic girl, Orton-GillinghamEmotionally Sound

We realize that many struggling readers and writers have been misidentified, perhaps called lazy, or have been made to feel stupid when they are not.  The treatment that we provide will not only help your child’s reading and writing difficulties but will help him/her feel empowered. We help your child develop a growth mindset and self-advocacy skills, that will follow him/her not only through their treatment but throughout his/her academic career.

It Works

This is a methodology that is based on the science of language learning. In a matter of months, significant progress can be achieved. For example, on average our students at Lexercise improve by several grade levels in reading in a semester. Lexercise’s Structured Literacy Curriculum uses science-backed principles–leveraging a blended learning model to maximize effectiveness,  combining live video therapy, online games for daily practice, and parent/teacher support materials for offline activities. Using our technology, our structured literacy therapists can tailor therapy to fit your child’s specific learning needs. Learn more about our online literacy therapy or call us today at 1-919-747-4557.

2 Responses to What is Structured Literacy?

  • Heidi blanchard commented

    Is there someone in Chico Ca that uses this program?

    • Heidi,
      Our face-to-face, live structured literacy (Orton-Gillingham) therapy can be done anywhere there is high speed internet. So one of our therapists can work with you in Chico, CA and even “go” with you if you move or go on vacation! Here is an article with a video describing how we do teletherapy. Give us a call if this interests you and we can explain more.

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.