Barton Reading and Spelling Review: Is It Effective for Dyslexia?

barton reading review

The Barton Reading and Spelling Program is a specialized, systematic intervention designed to improve the spelling, reading, and writing skills of an individual with known or suspected Dyslexia. The Barton method uses an Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach to target Dyslexia. 

In this comprehensive review, I’ll dive into the Barton system for Dyslexia, including the components, methodology, and impact of the program. I’ll also provide Barton reading reviews and first-hand experience on the Barton method from my work as a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. 

What is the Barton System?

The Barton System is a highly structured, Orton-Gillingham influenced, multisensory program that is used to address the reading, writing, and spelling difficulties caused by Dyslexia. 

Who Can Teach It

The program is used by reading specialists, parents, Speech-Language Pathologists, tutors, and other professionals. Individuals have the option of becoming a Certified Barton Tutor by completing professional training that surpasses the instruction provided in the basic Barton program.  

How It Works

Because the Barton spelling and reading is based on the Orton-Gilingham methodology, it follows a multi-sensory approach. 

The program uses hands-on manipulatives such as color-coded tiles. These are used to help children connect sounds with letters. For example, the student says each letter sound as he or she selects the tile, laying them out in order and reading the word out loud once it’s completed.   

The Barton Method is highly structured and sequential. It consists of scripted lessons, and is designed in a way that enables a range of individuals to use the program to teach children with Dyslexia. 

Differences from Traditional Orton-Gillingham

Barton Reading and Spelling differs in several ways from the traditional Orton-Gillingham approach, which was developed in the 1930’s. An Orton Gillingham tutor is typically required to  have extensive training on the techniques being used in the program and their purpose.   

The Barton program has a more extensive emphasis on phonemic awareness as a foundational skill. It teaches the 7 essential phonemic awareness skills that are needed for learning to spell and read. 

Compared to Barton lessons, which are scripted, the traditional Orton-Gillingham approach requires tutors to plan lessons that target the individual’s skills. 


The Barton program consists of a screening, followed by 10 levels. The Barton Student Screening is completed first. This is a tool designed to assess the child’s phonemic awareness and auditory memory skills in order to determine whether he or she has the skills needed to begin the Barton system. 

If the child does not pass the Barton Student Screening, it is recommended that he or she uses a program such as Foundation in Sounds or the Lindamood-Bell program called LiPS. The LiPS program must be used by someone who is trained to use it. Foundation in Sounds can be used by professionals, parents, or tutors. 

These programs are not required or affiliated with the Barton program, but they can help the child build the skills (auditory discrimination and/or auditory memory) necessary to retake and pass the Barton screening. The individual can then start the Barton program. 


After passing the Barton Student Screening, all students must begin with Level 1: Phonemic Awareness. Each of the Barton Levels comes with a Tutor Training DVD. This explains how to administer the components within a level. The parent or professional can watch this explanation and use the training manual to be guided on exactly what to say and how to complete each activity. 

The Barton System consists of 10 levels, each targeting specific literacy skills. The levels are: 

Level1: Phonemic Awareness

Level 2: Consonants & Short Vowels

Level 3: Closed Syllables and Units

Level 4: Syllable Division & Vowel Teams

Level 5: Prefixes and Suffixes

Level 6: Six Reasons for Silent-E

Level 7: Vowel-R Syllables

Level 8: Advanced Vowel Teams

Level 9: Influences of Foreign Languages

Level 10: Greek Words & Latin Roots  

Each level contains from 10 to 15 lessons. Each lesson takes approximately 5 minutes to complete. However, it’s important to keep in mind that each child learns at their own pace so this may differ from one student to another. 

It is typical for a child to receive tutoring through the Barton system twice a week for 1 hour. At this frequency, it typically takes 3 to 5 months to complete a level once the child is in level 3 or higher. Levels 1 and 2 do not typically take as long for the student to master.

On average, it may take approximately 2 to 3 years to complete the program with consistent practice. One parent reported that after 3 years of twice a week Barton tutoring, her child was about to complete Level 10 and that his life has changed due to improved reading and spelling skills.  

The structured progression creates a systematic approach to developing literacy skills. This ensures the child has formed a solid foundation before moving on to more complex concepts. The child isn’t required to complete all 10 levels. At times, instructors or parents may choose to stop once the child is reading on grade level. 

Barton Reading: An SLP’s Review

As a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) with experience in Dyslexia intervention, I’ve had the opportunity to use and assess the Barton Reading and Spelling program. Here is a detailed analysis of the methodology, teaching strategies, results, strengths, challenges, and expert tips to keep in mind when considering using the Barton system for dyslexia intervention. 

Methodology & Process 

Barton helps children learn to read at grade level. The systematic approach typically teaches a child to read on grade level by the time they reach Level 6 in Barton. 

Other literacy skills are not addressed. Barton does not address other literacy skills affected by Dyslexia, such as reading comprehension or writing essays. These skills will need to be addressed outside of the program. 

Barton reading and spelling is evidence based. There have been 15 independent studies that prove the effectiveness of the system in improving children’s phonological awareness and reading abilities. 

A large reason I prefer using the Barton curriculum with my clients is that it follows an evidence-based, systematic sequence. Several parents have reported that during reading and spelling tasks, their child names strategies we’ve worked on and uses them to help. 

Teaching Strategies

Individualized instruction within the Barton Program is designed to accommodate the unique needs of each learner. 

I can use a flexible teaching approach, adapting strategies based on the student’s specific areas of need and progress.

The multisensory approach engages a student’s auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities, which I’ve found appear to reinforce learning and improve attention. 


Increased confidence in reading and spelling skills is one of the immediate impacts I see in students using Barton. 

Over time, I’ve seen long-term impacts like students being better able to sound out new words as their reading level increases. This is likely due to the Barton program’s focus on foundational phonemic awareness skills.

Other first-hand reviews report positive impacts such as: 

  • Reduced frustration with academic tasks
  • Ability to read on grade-level
  • Improved grades
  • Improved independence with academic tasks  

Overall improvements in reading and spelling do appear to be maintained long-term, though research studies on the long-term impact of the program are limited. 


Each level in the Barton Reading and Spelling Program costs between $300-$400, and can be ordered for in-person tutoring (single tutor version) or for remote Barton tutoring. 

The cost includes color-coded letter tiles required for that level, a spiral-bound Tutor Manual, training DVDs, student record pages, and anything else needed to present lessons or play games within that level. 

Considering the time it may take a student to complete a level, the cost typically works out to be less than $100 per month to use the Barton system. Options for lowering the cost include sharing a system with others, purchasing a used system, grants, hiring a Barton tutor, or requesting a school to purchase the system.    

The effectiveness of the program should be kept in mind when considering the cost. Some parents’ testimonials report purchasing the Barton Reading and Spelling program to tutor your own child costs much less than private tutoring. 


The quality and availability of support from a Barton instructor contribute significantly to the success of the program. The instructor, student, and parent/caregivers should engage in regular interaction and communication about the child’s goals and progress. This can ensure a comprehensive support system. 

A student does have the opportunity to interact with peers while completing the Barton system. According to Barton, no more than 3 students should be in a group at a time, in order to provide each student with the level of individualized instruction they need. 

The Barton system offers a tutor support page, and those using the Barton system can contact Barton’s customer service via phone or email with questions. 

User Reviews

User reviews of the Barton Reading and Spelling Program are generally positive, expressing satisfaction with the program and its effectiveness. Users appear to like the systematic structure of the Barton program, and that it guides the user step by step on how to present it to a child. 

Parents, caregivers, and professionals who use the program with children report improved reading skills, writing abilities, and increased confidence in the child with Dyslexia.  

One aspect that stands out from user reviews? The multisensory approach that Barton uses (for example, “touch and say” with letters) stands out as a unique, effective way to teach individuals with Dyslexia. 

Strengths of the Barton Reading System 

What I find most effective about the Barton Reading System is the program’s structured and sequential nature, along with its multisensory approach. In my opinion, Barton is a highly effective system that provides individualized instruction, customized feedback and a support system that all contribute to building skills in Dyslexic individuals. 

Areas for Improvement

Although the Barton Reading and Spelling System has several strengths, I do believe there are some areas where improvement is possible. There are also some key points to consider when using this system. 

First, the multisensory approach does engage children, though more enhancements in the use of digital tools or materials could allow for even more engaging sessions when using Barton. For example, tracing letters on a tablet that activates sounds or changes colors would be a fun, multisensory activity that would engage children who are motivated by the use of technology. 

It’s also important to consider that while the Barton is a highly effective system for improving an individual’s reading and spelling abilities, it does not address other aspects of literacy that Dyslexic individuals typically struggle with. These include verbal memory, verbal processing speed, reading comprehension, and executive functioning

Bottom Line

Overall, I consider the Barton Reading and Spelling program to be a highly effective intervention for Dyslexia. Its evidence-based approach on the Orton-Gillingham method allows for individualized instruction that is engaging for students. It is important to consider factors like the cost, time/attendance commitment from the student, and that some literacy skills may need to be addressed in addition to using the program. However, the Barton system offers benefits that outweigh these factors. 

✅ The Barton program follows a structured, Orton-Gillingham influenced, multisensory approach.❌ Focuses on improving reading, writing, and spelling skills. Does not address other literacy skills affected by Dyslexia (reading comprehension, writing essays…)
✅ Barton provides individualized instruction tailored to the specific needs of each learner, allowing for customized feedback and support.❌ Each level of the Barton program costs between $350-$400, which may be prohibitive for some families.
✅ 15 independent studies proved its effectiveness in improving phonological awareness and reading abilities in individuals with dyslexia.❌ Completing the program requires consistent practice and significant time commitment over an extended period, typically 2 to 3 years.
✅ Consists of 10 levels, each targeting specific literacy skills, allowing for a systematic approach to developing reading and spelling skills.❌ While short-term improvements are reported, there is limited research on the long-term impact of the program on individuals with Dyslexia.

Our Methodology: How We Reviewed the Barton Program 

In our comprehensive review of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, I utilized a multi-faceted approach to ensure a thorough evaluation.  By incorporating various perspectives and a detailed breakdown of key components, our review aims to provide a comprehensive, unbiased evaluation of the Barton Reading and Spelling program. 

This review was not sponsored, and I do not have any financial affiliations with the Barton Reading and Spelling Program. The information I presented reflects my honest opinion on the program based on my professional experience with it. 

Below outlines the methodology I followed to assess the effectiveness and value of the Barton Program:

  • Evaluation Criteria: Our review was guided by clearly defined criteria, focusing on the educational effectiveness of the program, its usability for learners and educators, accessibility for users with diverse needs, and the quality of support resources provided. I selected information that reflects the impact of Dyslexia on individuals and how the Barton system can improve those skills. The information reflects my professional experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I considered case studies and research from professional organizations and reputable journals. 
  • User Feedback: A pivotal part of our review involved gathering feedback directly from those who have used the Barton System. Through research on websites for therapy centers,  tutoring organizations, and parents of children with Dyslexia, I collected insights on user experiences, the usability of the program, and the support provided, enabling us to gauge real-world impacts.
  • Expert Analysis: To ensure a comprehensive review as an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist, I analyzed the Barton program’s curriculum and teaching methodologies against current academic and pedagogical standards. This, in combination with analyses of other experts in the field, was invaluable in assessing its theoretical underpinnings.

Forbrain and Barton Reading as Complementary Dyslexia Tools 

One tool that can complement the Barton Reading and Spelling program is Forbrain. Forbrain is a speech and language enhancement device designed to improve auditory processing, attention, and communication skills through bone conduction technology. Forbrain uses specialized headphones to transmit sound vibrations, amplifying sounds. 

Complementing the Barton Reading program with the use of Forbrain, an auditory stimulation device, can enhance the overall effectiveness of intervention for individuals with Dyslexia. 

The Barton Program addresses the core deficits associated with Dyslexia. Forbrain is a digital learning tool that allows the user to hear themselves slightly louder. This amplified effect can make it easier for the brain to process and remember what the user says out loud. It follows the multisensory approach of Barton by engaging the auditory sense while the student learns reading and writing skills. 

The two can be used simultaneously in the intervention of Dyslexia, as Forbrain can be used while a student completes Barton lessons.   

The Use of Barton Reading with and without Forbrain

Feature/AspectForbrainBarton ReadingBarton Reading with Forbrain
FunctionalityHeadset that helps with the 3 main challenges of dyslexia: verbal memory, phonological awareness, and verbal processing speed. The combination of the dynamic filter and bone conduction amplifies the speaker’s voice and stimulates the auditory nerve, for better brain processing.The Barton Reading and Spelling Program is a highly structured, Orton-Gillingham influenced, multisensory program for Dyslexia.Pairing Forbrain with BR enhances auditory feedback and cognitive functions, potentially speeding up reading and spelling mastery.
UsabilityMeant to be implemented into daily routines, for 10-20 minutes a day. Individuals simply need to wear the headset when reading or speaking.Structured and sequential program with scripted lessons and hands-on manipulatives.Forbrain can be used during Barton sessions, allowing simultaneous auditory and cognitive training without extra scheduling.
Target AudienceSuitable for 3+ and older individuals with learning challenges such as dyslexiaIndividuals with known or suspected Dyslexia.BR targets the same audience as Forbrain, enhancing intervention effectiveness for Dyslexic individuals.
BenefitsForbrain helps to improve:
– speech
– communication
– attention
– focus
– memory
– learning
Improves reading, writing, and spelling skills through structured, multisensory intervention.Using Forbrain with Barton Reading combines auditory and cognitive training, potentially enhancing reading, writing, and spelling.
LimitationsNot appropriate for individuals with :
– cochlear implant
– severe hearing loss
– epilepsy
Does not address other literacy skills affected by Dyslexia, such as reading comprehension or writing essays.Integrating Forbrain with Barton Reading adds to the cost but enhances the overall effectiveness of intervention for Dyslexia.
Cost$299 for the Forbrain headset and accessories, with a 2-year warranty.Each level costs between $300-$400.The combined cost of both Forbrain and the Barton Program is higher, but the potential for enhanced outcomes could justify the investment.
Support & ResourcesForbrain comes with:
– A secondary microphone that allows support from parents, therapists, or instructors.
– A headphone jack for listening to recordings or participating in online therapy programs.
Support available through Barton instructors and customer service.Dual support from both Forbrain and Barton instructors enhances user support and maximizes the benefits of both tools.
Clinical Evidence/ResearchForbrain uses neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire and change. Several scientific studies have shown the effects of using Forbrain or auditory feedback to improve the skills of those with reading or other deficits.Evidence-based approach with 15 independent studies proving effectiveness.Combining both tools leverages their strengths, potentially leading to compounded benefits for individuals with Dyslexia.

Final Words

The Barton Reading and Spelling program is a highly effective, evidence-based approach to treating symptoms of Dyslexia. Through expert opinion, first-hand reviews from users, and a detailed breakdown of the components and methodology of the program, Barton emerges as a program that can be used to improve reading and spelling skills in Dyslexic individuals. 

Using Forbrain can complement the effectiveness of the Barton program, empowering individuals with Dyslexia to develop essential literacy skills that can improve their academic performance and overall quality of life.


Austin, C., Stevens, L., Demchack, A., & Solari, E. (2023). Orton-Gillingham: Which Aspects are Supported by Research and Which Require Additional Research?. The reading league. DOI:

Stein, J., Gordon, R. (2022). Automaticity and Executive Abilities in Developmental Dyslexia: A Theoretical Review. Brain sciences, 12(4), 446.

Amy Yacoub

Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist. She has over 12 years of experience working with children who have a variety of diagnoses and disorders, including speech and language delays, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, and Autism. She is also an experienced consultant within the field.

More Reviews on Dyslexia Programs:

Wilson Reading
Orton Gillingham
Lindamood Bell
Fast ForWord
Interactive Metronome
Learning Breakthrough