Are you Orton-Gillingham based? and other FAQs

Is your program Orton-Gillingham based?

Yes! Steve Tattum is an expert in the Orton-Gillingham programs. In fact, for many years, he was an Orton trainer having worked in four separate Orton based programs (Slingerland, Project Read, Alphabetic Phonics and the original system Orton-Gillingham modified for adolescents). If you are familiar with these programs, you will see that Orton-Gillingham forms our scope and sequence. However, for our automaticity for sounds we use a magnetic board instead of flashcards (which are dull) with the emphasis on segmenting and blending the sound and words.

In addition, we spend between 20-30 minutes in reading instead of the typical 8-10 minutes in a usual Orton-Gillingham lesson. In order to accomplish this, Steve Tattum had to write books for all ages to accompany the program, especially for older students.

Learn more about our FREE reading assessments. 

What about the other “recommended” (such as Reading Recovery, Slingerland, or Lindamood) reading programs for teaching kids with dyslexia to read?

The creation of our reading program didn’t happen by accident.  It took many years of teaching reading and a deep understanding of the most highly regarded reading programs to figure out how to teach reading in the most effective way possible.

It was Steve’s professional background that made the biggest difference. In the 1990’s, Steve was the reading director of a school for children with Learning Differences in Denver. It was through this role that he was sent to be trained in almost all of the major reading intervention programs in the country. He became an expert in Orton-Gillingham, Lindamood-Bell, Slingerland, Reading Recovery, Alphabetic Phonics, and Whole Language (plus some others).

Because of his unique professional training, Steve understood that all the major reading programs had something positive to give to an emerging or struggling reader.  He could see what worked and didn’t work well within each system. What he noticed was that most of the major reading programs do not seem to learn from one another, much less incorporate their best practices. To Steve, the programs seemed isolated from one another and they missed the opportunity to learn from and incorporate, best practices. Over the years, Steve began to blend his teaching more and more until finally, he decided to spend six months figuring out the system and another six months developing the curriculum that only used the best and most effective components to teach reading — regardless of the methodology. What came out was the base for

Over the years, Steve began to blend his knowledge of programs into his teaching more and more until finally, in 1997, he decided to spend six months figuring out the system and another six months developing the curriculum that only used the best and most effective components to teach reading — regardless of the methodology. What came out was  Tattum Reading Program.

If you look closely, you will see that our reading program is a sophisticated blend of the best approaches on the market and integrates best practices regardless of where the practice originated. It is also infused with the latest in neuro-research on the reading brain.  Add-in Steve’s 40 years of teaching reading to struggling readers, and you have a child-friendly program that gets results.

What about the books? 

When Steve developed his program, he noticed that missing from almost every reading program on the market was interesting, engaging, books. This made no sense. The whole idea is to teach a child to read — books that were exciting to read and that captured the reader’s imagination. Steve couldn’t find books that were written at his student’s reading level that were exciting, not boring. Thus, he wrote 8 series of chapter books that aligned to his curriculum. Naturally, the books are phonemically controlled because if a beginning reader can only read one-syllable words, then you need a book that only uses only one-syllable words, regardless of the grade level. There is a storybook in our program that is written only with a consonant vowel consonant pattern for aimed at each of the age levels – even high school. The books are the central part of the curriculum.

The books were a key missing component of an effective reading program and are the central part of the LearnUp curriculum.

What about neurology? 

Many parents and educators do not understand that every person who is learning to read goes through the same learning to read process, regardless of their age when they learn to read. That is, in order to learn how to read you need oral language, then phonemic awareness, and then phonics. These three linguistic skills are the foundation for reading, spelling, and fluency.

Learn more about our FREE reading assessments. 

Children with neuro-typical brains may learn these skills naturally and simply start reading. These natural readers seem to go from not reading to reading almost spontaneously. For them a reading rich program will work well. On the other hand, children with neuro-diverse brains (current research estimates that these may be up to 20% of our population) need a reading program that uses systematic phonics, explicit instruction and is multi-sensory by design. In short, they need a program like LearnUp.

Learn more about neuro-diversity:

Dr. Nadine Gaab, Harvard School of Medicine

Fumiko Hoeft, UCSF


Does your program work with kids with ADD/ADHD?


All students benefit from an engaging pedagogy. Steve T. designed the program to be universally accessible and to support all types of learners. He specifically made sure the program worked with children who live with ADD/ADHD as this if often correlated to reading struggles.

We believe that our program is one of the most active and engaging reading programs on the market. It keeps a lively pace and moves quickly from one part of the lesson to the next, so it is better able to hold a student’s attention. A fast pace helps all types of students stay focused on the task at hand and is inherently more interesting and engaging.

Learn more about our FREE reading assessments.