Topic | Barton vs Delightful Reading

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  • lettucepatchkids

    I have posted in the past on this topic but I’m just needing some fresh perspective here…. I always get that on these forums.

    My daughter is 9.5 and has been struggling to learn to read since she was 5. We started out in All About Reading and after a few years making very little progress (spent about 3 years doing level 1… practically no retention.) I had her evaluated at a local Barton tutoring place, about a year and a half ago, and the results were she has possible markers for dyslexia and would fit with the Barton program (personally I see now that they were not accessing for any dyslexia but to see if she had the capabilities to start in Barton level 1) I did Barton at home with her for the past year and a half (we’re currently in level 4)… it’s slow going and honestly I see the same issues she struggled with while doing AAR… retention, overwhelmed with rules, controlled spelling is almost always perfect within a lesson, but she really struggles to read the words.

    In May I had purchased the delightful reading kit for my son, along with the Enjoying the Early years DVD… and something Sonya said in the teaching reading seminar really stopped me in my tracks. <really paraphrasing here> “sometimes when you drill a child in phonics they know the rules, but they cannot read fluently because they are paralyzed with analyzing the word for the right rule” Anyhow because of this I just decided to give her a few lessons in DR just for fun (yes against Barton “rules”) She loves it, we have gotten through about half of the book and she is actually retaining the information! We took a short break from Barton and when I pulled it out again she begged me to just do DR and not do Barton.

    I’m just not sure how to proceed at this point. On one hand I want to whole heartedly embrace CM methods and follow my daughter’s lead and just plug along with DR, praying that reading will just click for her one day. On the other hand I fear that she does have dyslexia and I’m doing damage to her eventual ability to read by doing things outside of the Barton curriculum, that she is 9.5 and is reading at a kindergarten level… am I crippling her further by dropping a curriculum intended for kids who need reading intervention?


    anyone have any thoughts?

    Sonya Shafer

    My first thought would be to use what is working. If she wasn’t retaining the other programs, I’m not sure they were being effective. If she is making progress now, it seems sensible to keep going in that direction.

    It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing, forever-amen decision. You might think of it as approaching reading from a different angle to give her more reading tools, give her a break from the other lessons that were frustrating, and encourage a love of reading and a bit of confidence. If she hits a wall and stops making progress, you can always go back to trying the other approach at that time. Or you might consider doing a combination in order to give her all the tools you have found; you might do Delightful Reading two or three days a week and a different approach on other days of the week.

    It just seems like, after four and a half years of spinning your wheels, if she’s finally making progress, keep going.


    I would encourage you to get a formal evaluation. Maybe she is dyslexic or perhaps there is some other glitch. I gained so much information about how each of my kids learn during these evaluations. Formal evaluation also allows access to other resources. For my dyslexics, this means Learning Ally access, and college accommodations.

    Level 4 in Barton is the hardest and longest. It does get easier after Level 4. For a dyslexic, there is a lot of information to retain in Level 4. I allowed my kids to use the reference sheets while reading, spelling, and correcting. I kept these sheets readily available at all times and told them these were their “tools” for English. Eventually, they referred to these list less and less.

    Taking a complete break from Barton is rarely recommended. However, if she is totally stuck or frustrated, approaching reading from another angle is probably a good idea. Spelling Success has some card games that correspond to the different levels. Reviewing previously learned lessons can also help her along. Reading and re-reading the stand alone books helps also.


    We took a few month break from Barton due to family circumstances. We played the Spelling Success games several times a week, re-read stories from previous lessons, and read books on Learning Ally. We restarted Barton last week, and both kids are flying through their current level ( Level 6 & 7) and reading/spelling at grade level.

    Level 4 was the worst. Don’t give up too soon on Barton!



    see these two posts are exactly my internal struggle 😉 lol!!! I’m seeing her progress with DR and if I strip everything down THAT is my goal.  BUT I also know that Barton is very strict in not doing anything but Barton. I guess I mainly waiver between “late reader… it will just click” and “dyslexic we need to do intensive lessons”  I’m so tired with working with her and just seeing things move so very slowly. I want to unlock the absolute joy of reading for her… it’s heartbreaking to see her not be able to experience this.


    I would not say she struggles with her Barton lessons, I would more say that she does very well inside the lesson but I am still not seeing any carryover to everyday.  Any reading part of the lesson takes FOREVER, and we have been working daily on fluency drills.  Spelling is good (what very LITTLE she does) reading is just painful.


    I initially called around about getting here accessed for a LD… but the prices I was seeing were $500+ 🙁


    sorry… I’m like Debbie Downer over here.

    Both of your posts were very encouraging to me…thank you….I’m just having a tough school day here.


    re-reading your words Sonya now that It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing, forever-amen decision are really resonating with me.  As frustrating as it is for me (planner) I need to just focus on the next thing

    Christine Salinas

    We have tried EVERYTHING like you. I spent $3000 on an intensive 1 week reading program last December (1 1/2 years ago), but truthfully he never sees progress with anything we have tried and it’s exhausting for him and me. We are going to try Delightful Reading. I’m confident the small successes will add up and we will be on our way to reading.


    I read somewhere – maybe in Susan Barton’s newsletter or in one of her Facebook chats? – that we can’t expect the students to apply what they’re learning in the Barton lessons to “real life” when they’re in Level 4……They are still learning, still practicing, still having to THINK so much about EVERYTHING.

    And, honestly, my daughter is half -way thru Level 5 (which is much easier than Level 4), and I still don’t see her applying very much of what she’s learned outside of her Barton lessons.  (I tutor her myself and we are in the midst of a month-or-more break, just because of summer and whatnot.)

    However, I DO see improvement! I DO see her applying some things she’s learned — so I know that the Barton system is a GREAT system for us.  And I’m confident that as she becomes a confident reader (and she’s made great strides already), she will be able to think of all these rules and apply them whatever the situation.

    As a dyslexic, though, my daughter will undoubtedly have to work harder than other people to read and she may never win any spelling bees — and that’s okay.

    So, I would encourage you to do the best you can with what you have.  Perhaps a break is beneficial for a time.  However,  I think if you continue with Barton, you will see GREAT results over time.  You might consider shorter, more frequent tutoring sessions.  I work with my daughter 4-5 days each week, for only 30 minutes at a time.  My daughter is 11.  And that’s about how long her attention span is.

    If we don’t have time for a tutoring session, we play one of the Spelling Success games — they are fabulous and well worth the money.

    See what works for your daughter….Just do the best you can with what you have.  Your best is good enough!!! 🙂

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