Monday, September 14, 2020

Barton Reading and Spelling: Expensive, Boring, and Effective



The following is a guest post by Stacie Servantes Farias, a Mexican-American mom of 5 who does not blog because she is too busy reading other blogs to write one of her own.

The Basics

Barton Reading Spelling is an Orton-Gillingham based reading and spelling program created by Susan Barton. According to the Barton website, the Barton system “is a great tutoring system for children, teenagers, and adults who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing due to dyslexia or a learning disability.”

Barton Reading and Spelling has 10 levels that range in price from $300 - $350 per level. All students must pass the free Barton Student Screener in order to be able to use the program and all tutors, or parents who “tutor” their own children, must pass the free Barton Tutor Screener. There are several other requirements to be a Barton student (or at least be able to benefit from the Barton program) that are listed here.

The Real Review

Now that I have explained all the basic information, let me give y’all the real deal from a homeschool mom who has tutored her kids through 7 of the 10 Barton levels. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY expensive, as far as homeschool curriculum is concerned. We have paid $350 for just one level?!?!? And all you get is a large spiral-bound manual, some colored tiles, and a set of DVDs!!! 

Yup. A lucky set of circumstances helped us to cover some of these costs, but yes. We paid $300 to $350 per level for a box with a giant manual, some colored tiles (although the tile app is better) and a set of DVDs. The plus side of Barton is that it has a very high resale value. Most families buy one level at a time and list that level “for sale” on eBay or various Facebook groups and easily get back $250-$300 back. That money goes into buying the next level their kiddo needs. Another plus is that many Barton parents later invest in becoming certified Barton tutors and begin to tutor other children. Overall, tutoring your own children is still astonishingly cheaper than paying a tutor to do it for you. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY boring. LOL! This does not sound like an endorsement but it most definitely is, after an explanation. Barton was originally written for adults and so there are no cutesy pictures or anything of ANY visual interest in the student pages. The practice stories are drab. The procedures of Barton are so repetitive that you may require a caffeine boost to get you through them. But the repetition is key! The formulaic, systematic, and yes boring, procedures are exactly what a dyslexic student needs to recall and retain the many skills that are needed to read and spell. This is the secret of an Orton-Gillingham based program and why it works. And by the way, Barton is scripted. Moms, you CAN teach your child using this system by watching the DVDs, then doing the lessons from the script. That’s all you need. 

Barton Reading and Spelling is VERY effective. I have seen it in my own children. Their spelling is not perfect 100% of the time but they now have tools to help them. My children can break apart syllables. My children know what schwa is. My children are helping their younger siblings learn how to read using Barton techniques. Wha?!?!? Yes! I caught my dyslexic 12-year-old explaining to my 7-year-old why “y” makes different sounds at the end of a word. It’s called the Cry Baby Rule, thank you Barton!! 

With regards to my children’s reading skills, Barton has been effective in 2 ways. First, my children have stopped guessing at words (at least in front of me) and my children can read words that they have never encountered before by breaking apart syllables. Many people think this is the same as “sound it out,” but it is not the quite the same. There is a system for breaking apart syllables to determine what sounds the letters make and my kids understand this because of Barton. If you are more convinced by numbers, take a look at these studies about Barton’s effectiveness. 

Disclaimer! I could not possibly say everything there is to say about the Barton experience. Some days it just clicks and some days we have to close the manual and take a break. And what can I say about Susan Barton herself? She is a queen, A QUEEN!! If you watch this video of Susan Barton explaining signs and symptoms of dyslexia, you can see how much she cares and how much she knows. When you hear the story about her nephew, grab a tissue. 

Please! If you suspect dyslexia in your child or children, I highly recommend checking up Susan Barton’s two websites:
Do NOT be put off by the early 2000s look of the websites. LOL! The information is up-to-date.

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Stacie Servantes Farias is an Army wife and mom of 5 with a “very healthy” obsession for Snoopy, Disney movies, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, books, and homeschooling. Originally from Mission, Texas, Stacie and her high-school sweetheart hubby live with their kids and dog in a different home every few years, because that is the military life. She has big plans to write a book exploring her theory that La Llorona drowned her children because they would take their socks off all over the house and then would complain that they never had clean socks! Stacie also thinks she is really funny, but she is mostly lame. 

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