In Curriculum Reviews, dyslexia, Handwriting, reading and spelling

Barton Reading and Spelling Review Table of Contents

I want to start off by telling you that I am in no way connected with Susan Barton or Bright Solutions- they are not sending money this way. As a parent with kids who have dyslexia, it is my goal to share my experiences in order to help other parents whose kids struggle with reading and/or spelling, too.

My kids were struggling with reading and spelling. The cyber school that my kids were in enrolled in a few years ago recommended that we try the Barton Reading and Spelling System, created by Susan Barton, owner of Bright Solutions. I discussed it with a few parents who used the program and decided to give it a try.

What kind of Program is the Barton Reading System?

The Barton Reading System was originally developed for adults struggling with dyslexia. It has since been adapted so children as young as 5 can use it, too, if they can hear difference between sounds (phonemic awareness).

Even though I started off with only two kids having dyslexia-related challenges (I never paid for an official diagnosis), I decided to start my other kids on the program as soon as they started kindergarten. If they did have dyslexia, they would be on the right path from the start, unlike their older brothers who started in 2nd and 4th grades. If they did not have even a slight problem with dyslexia, this program is still very beneficial because they would understand why words are spelled a certain way and they will be learning reading with a hands-on approach. So, students do not need to have dyslexic reading challenges to use this program.

I learned that the Barton Reading System is influenced by the Orton Gillingham curriculum, which is multi-sensory based. Students hear, say, touch, write, and see what they are learning about. The advantage of the multi-sensory approach is that you’re helping your students to create many pathways in their brains as they are learning reading and spelling, making it more likely that they will remember what they are taught. Also, since each learning style is used to pass on the information, kids of all learning styles will be able to achieve success with this program.

What comes with each level of the Barton Reading and Spelling System?

  • DVDs with Susan Barton demonstrating how to use the program. This is a great feature because you do not need to be a certified teacher to use this program. Simply watch the DVDs before you teach each level and do the examples to build your own understanding.
  • Tiles: all the tiles that you will need to teach your students that level are included
  • Teacher guide: The teacher guide tells you word for word what you need to tell your student, so you don’t have to make it up as you go. In the columns, you’ll find the short version so that when you are comfortable enough with the program, you may not need to word or sentence provided.
  • Student pages: They come in blue because Susan Barton believes it is easier for students to learn using blue paper with black type.

What supplies do I need to get started?

Using your Barton Reading and Spelling System with more than one student:

I have 6 kids and wanted to protect everything in the program so that all of them could use it without replacing any of the worksheets. I also wanted to make it easy to set up my lessons as possible. There are a bunch of letter tiles to keep track of and set up.

The first thing I get is a 3 ring binder for each level that has student pages. I choose binders with pockets to keep the site word note cards the students are currently working on and clear inserts on the spine and front so that the notebook can be labeled with the Barton level number. Then, I place 2 pages in each page protector before inserting the pages into the notebook. I recommend selecting packages that contain between 100 and 200 sheet protectors because you’ll need several hundred for 7 levels that come with student pages. I do put the tutor training into as few sheet protectors as possible so that I use as few as possible. Then, I use wet erase markers to write on the page protectors and a damp cloth to erase the kids’ writing.

Second, I bought magnetic tape, cut (or break) the pieces about 1/3rd the size of the tiles, and attach them to the back of the tiles. I arrange them in alphabetical order on a metal cookie pan. I needed only one large cookie pan until I reached level 7. Then, I had so many tiles that they would no longer fit in an organized fashion. I got a second pan and placed the prefixes, suffixes, unit, and vowel team tiles on the second pan. I left the alphabet, digraphs and trigraphs on the first pan. This also helped my students to find the tiles more easily. I ended up using 3 pans before I finished the program.

Third, instead of going through reams of paper for site words, spelling words, phrases, and sentences, I bought a 9×12 dry erase board, eraser and markers. My kids only use these supplies for doing Barton lessons, so they think it’s a real treat. I want to point out that the dry erase board I use doesn’t have the lines because kids and adults with dyslexia may also have dysgraphia, so it may frustrate everyone during the lesson to work within the lines. I choose to keep handwriting and Barton lessons separate to decrease frustration.

Fourth, when you get to level four, you need a Franklin Spelling Ace. The lessons teach the students how to look up words using special techniques when there are multiple ways to spell a particular sound. Susan Barton emphasizes that only the Franklin Spelling Ace be used because the instructions throughout the lessons are specific for that brand and model. I got one for each of my kids when they reached level 3 because I never know the exact day when they will start the first lesson that they need the Franklin Spelling ace, plus they may need to use it while doing their other school work.

Another advantage of having a Franklin Spelling Ace is that there is a built in reading timer. I set it for the amount of time I intend to teach and it lets me know when the time is up. Also, when my Franklin Spelling Ace ran out of batteries, the screen didn’t seem to want to work when I replaced the batteries. My son used the reset button on the back. Viola! We were back in business and we don’t have to wait or press clear to get rid of the demonstration message that appears when the Franklin Spelling Ace is first turned on any more.

How Much Does the Curriculum Cost?

The virtual school had a site license allowing the students of their school to use the program at a discounted rate (we also qualified for a partial scholarship based on our family’s income) with me being their tutor. This is a big deal. If you look at the graphic below, you will see why:

barton reading and spelling system price chart 29 Mar 2012Another way to obtain the levels is to buy used copies. Some people find the Barton Reading and Spelling for sale on Ebay or their local classified ads (e.g. Craig’s List). Sometimes, Amazon has them available. If they do today, they’ll be here:

If money is an issue, I would try teaching your kids yourself. You will see a bunch of light bulb moments, which is one of the benefits of teaching your own children. You do not have to be a home school family or a trained teacher to do this. All the training you need comes with the program.

If you do not have the time nor the inclination to teach your kids from the Barton Curriculum, you can locate a Barton Tutor in your area. There are two types of tutors. The first type of tutor is someone, like me, who has experience working with kids, but hasn’t had any formal training. They should charge less than the second type of tutor, who is trained by Susan Barton. Tutors who go through training with Susan Barton can be quite expensive, but worth every penny. They can charge quite a bit of money and have been “certified” by Susan Barton.

Many kids are tutored two or three times a week between 30 and 60 minutes per session, making lesson scheduling possible for even the busiest families. At the very least, I recommend scheduling lessons three times per week for 30 minutes per session. This will decrease the amount of time used for reviewing due to kids forgetting what they have learned. I aim for four-30 minute sessions per week.

Here is a video that I made to show you some of what I am talking about above:




I shared with you some ideas for obtaining the Barton Reading and Spelling System as well as some ways to make your investment last. While the extra supplies may add up quickly, they save you a bunch compared to replacing your Barton materials. The cookie pans will help you to stay organized and  prepared for your next lesson.

I also provided a brief overview of the Barton Reading System and explained that dyslexic reading challenges do not need to be present to use this program.

Lastly, I want to remind you know that I am in no way connected with Susan Barton or the curriculum I shared with you- in other words, I’m not getting a penny from Susan Barton or Bright Solutions for writing this review. I am simply a parent who wants to spread hope to others who either struggle with reading and writing or know some one who does. I have had success with this program and hope that my experiences will help you to decide if this program is for you or not.

Also, I am in the process of creating worksheets to help my sons practice their site words for the Barton Reading and Spelling Program. You can download them and edit them using StartWrite 6.0 for your own use. Barton Site Word Worksheets:

Level 3 Lesson 1

Level 3 Lesson 3

Level 3 Lesson 8

Please feel free to share your thoughts about dyslexia and the Barton Reading and Spelling System in the comments form below. If you know someone who struggles with reading and/or spelling, please pass this on to them so that they can learn more about this program.

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Showing 38 comments
  • Dorene

    This review was helpful. My 7 y/o son was just diagnosed with dyslexia & it was suggested we hire a tutor 4 times a week at $45-60/ hour. It’s overwhelming. I’d like to help my son myself. In your opinion would he be able to attend school all day (7 hours), do school homework & work on the Barton system? I’ve never home schooled but am considering it to focus on reading & being time efficient. At school his teacher will help him read worksheets etc but is not teaching him in a specific dyslexic friendly method.

    • Becky

      Personally, I think that adding Barton on top of your schedule will be difficult because kids get tired by the end of the day and family time each day is valuable. When they are tired, they don’t absorb as much of the material. He will be retraining his brain to read, which can be tiring- like flexing a different muscle group when you join a new exercise class.

      I just found out that some schools in my area are starting to offer Barton instruction. Perhaps, there’s a school near you that offers that and will allow you to transfer. You could even ask your school to get the program at their expense, offer to tutor your own son and other kids. Another option that some schools in my area offer is part-time. The kids can go 1-3 times a week and do the rest at home. On those days he’s at home, you could use the Barton program.

      Otherwise, I would suggest homeschooling with the Barton program if you can because he’ll have a better chance of feeling successful when he learns how to work with this challenge and turn it into a strength. Then, when he completes the program, you could send him back to school.

      Part of the reason I suggest that is because students are supposed to avoid reading outside the program during most of the program. The program focuses on retraining their brain. If they read sooner, progress will be slower. The only ways you can control that is to get teachers who will respect your wishes (hard to do when there are 20-30 kids per class) or keep them home until they reach level 5. When students become anxious to read, there are books that are specifically designed to coordinate with the Barton Program.

      The program comes with training DVDs, so you don’t have to worry about not being qualified. If losing your income is an issue, after you get the hang of it, you could consider becoming a Barton Tutor yourself. After you work with a certain number of kids, you could take Susan Barton’s class and become a Certified Barton Tutor and charge even more. is a great resource.

      If you have further questions, please let me know. I will help you the best I can.

  • Sarah

    My daughter just began the Barton system and we are seeing remarkable gains. She began kindergarten but I found that she was struggling and when I had her privately tested we discovered the dyslexia. I found a Barton tutor. I pulled Lucy out of school for the fall term and had her tutored 4 times a week, it was exhausting for her but now she is ready to go back and we will dial back the tutoring to twice a week when she begins again in January. Over the summer I will ramp up the tutoring again. I know that I would have loved to tutor her myself but in discovering Lucy’s dyslexia I discovered that I had it too. I was clearly not as severe as she but I would not make a good tutor for her because of my own issues, at this point. I would make sure you find a reputable tutor to test you with the tutor test to make sure you are a good fit for your son. The Barton system works best when tutors are screened and monitored to make sure you are hearing the issues properly. We need to remember that dyslexia is an inherited condition. Good luck to you both.

    • Becky

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion! I agree, it’s very important that tutors be screened to make sure they hear the sounds correctly- so many sounds in our alphabet can be very tricky to discern because they sound very similar. For some people, those sounds sound the same.

      I never had myself nor my husband tested for dyslexia. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had it and I had some tendencies.

      As I tutored my sons, I found that I learned a lot of rules that make the few words I always struggled to read and/or spell correctly easier. The other rules were unknown to me until I taught them. I grew up with the understanding that our language had very few rules and that we had to memorize how to spell/read the rest of the words. Once you learn the Barton rules, you’ll discover, as I did, that there are many rules that apply to our language- most words in our language have rules. The rest are adopted from other languages.

      Anyway, thanks again! I look forward to more success stories!

  • Shelly


    I just ordered my first Barton system and excited to get started. Thanks for posting some good ideas! I’m not only planning on using this program on my son but to eventually tutor other kids in the area. There are only a few tutors in my area. By the way you look familiar. Do you happen to live in Orange County CA?

    • Becky

      I am so happy for you! If your experiences are anything like mine, you’ll be very happy that you ordered this program. My kids have thanked me many times for helping them to read and spell. My oldest son, now a 7th grader, was very embarrassed that he couldn’t write his name in 3rd grade due to reversing the “b” in his name.

      I didn’t originally plan to tutor other kids. However, I just started tutoring two kids. They’re not dyslexic, but have other reading challenges- one is on the spectrum for autism.

      I live in Colorado. I hear that I look familiar a lot! LOL
      Thank you, Shelly, for commenting. I am thrilled that I could help you!

    • Mary Kuykendall

      Hello! I am an educational therapist with a privqate practice (714-744-0950) located in the north Orange County area. I have 40+ years as an educator, the last 20 exclusively working with students with learning disabilities. I have training and experience in SIX different Orton-Gillingham reading methods. I consider the Barton System the best method for dyslexics, though I do use components of the other methods that I have found helpful and not included in the Barton method.

      There is only one method I consider superior to Barton and that is the Slingerland Reading method which is a comprehensive language arts program that includes multisensory instruction in handwriting, reading decoding, reading comprehension, English grammar, oral language skills, and written language for all grades from kindergarten to adults. In California I only know of two private schools that use it, one being the Prentice School for dyslexics in Orange County.

      • Becky

        I hope your practice is doing well. Thank you for your comments on the Barton Program. I, too, sometimes use other tools to provide my children a change of pace. I find that changing the routine periodically and temporarily helps kids to learn more. When we return to our regular activities, their minds are fresh and they usually surprise me with by remembering more and accomplishing more in a session.

        I haven’t looked into the Slingerland Reading method yet. I would be interested in the handwriting lessons it offers. One of my sons also suffers with dysgraphia, it would have been wonderful to have something to help with that. He’s nearly 13 now, and he has chosen to start practicing his handwriting skills lately- on his own accord. Now, his handwriting is legible, whereas last year, even he couldn’t read it.

        Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts!


  • Denise

    I just read your review. I am in the middle of deciding between
    PAL-Reading and Writing
    Logic of English
    All About Reading and All About Writing
    Barton Reading ans Spelling System
    The Reading Horizons Discovery K-3
    I am so torn. My daughter is 8 and is very creative and artistic. I am afraid that the Barton System might not be very fun and engaging. Discovery K-3 and PALS looks fun and has games but maybe that isn’t the important part. I really want my daughter to see that learning can be fun and not just frustrating. She is at a 1st grade reading level, is ADD and has memory issues. I am having such a hard time deciding on a curriculum. We tried Lexercise for 4 weeks but for $400 a month it didn’t really seem worth it. I just started a homeschooling dyslexics group if you would like to share your thoughts and experiences. Thank you for your review and any thoughts you have.

    • Becky

      I have never tried the other programs you mentioned. However, my idea for keeping lessons inspiring to young children is to pull out a game. Every time they complete a part of an activity (read a sentence, spell a word, solve a math problem) let them make the next move in the game the child has chosen. My son was in speech therapy with a few different therapists. Each used this technique and it was more like play time instead of work. I use this at home, too. I think this technique will work any program you choose no matter the subject. I would keep the games that you use for lesson time as special by not letting them come out of their secret hiding place until lesson time.

      You may want to do this with simple games that do not require too much effort for your child. Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, etc. Other kids may like Memory, Break the Ice, Jenga, the list could go on.

      Thank you for your comments! I look forward to finding out what you have chosen for your daughter as well as the successes, challenges, etc. you see as a result.

      • Denise

        Thank you Becky. At this point I am down to 2! I am trying to decide between the Reading Horoizons Discovery K-3 and the Barton System. My daughter is very creative and I am afraid that the Barton System looks boring and the voice is very monotone. She has great points on her samples that make a lot of sense but I would have to figure a way of making it fun. Is it as boring in person as it looks on her videos and sample pages? Do you find it boring at all? Have you ever looked at the Reading Horizons Discovery program? It just came out so I am afraid the kinks might not be worked out yet. Oh, decisions decisions. I think you should review it so we can compare it. 🙂 Thank you for your help!

        • Becky

          Thanks for the suggestion about reviewing Reading Horizons Discovery program. I’ll have to consider it. Until now, I never heard about that program.

          I’ve never thought of it as boring. My kids look forward to the lessons because their skills improve pretty quickly. I pay attention to the cues kids naturally provide so I know when to end the lesson. Sometimes, they’ve absorbed enough from the lesson in 20 minutes that overload will occur if I don’t stop. Other times, my kids have wanted to continue beyond our normal half an hour.

          However, if you are still worried about getting bored, you can play games of memory with the site words and other games she suggests to make the lessons seem more exciting. There are also books that are listed on the Barton website for kids to read that could be used instead of completing an entire less.

          Though the lessons are scripted, there is a short-cut script in the margin that you can use once you feel comfortable with the program so that you can animate yourself and still include everything.

          I am happy to help. I hope to hear what you end up choosing!

  • Christine

    Just wanted to mention that when I had my son in regular “brick and mortar” school I ensured the teacher knew what kind of time my son was investing in Barton. It is entirely reasonable to negotiate with the teacher that his Barton time can count as his home reading time or replace several language arts projects/assignments. Generally, by the time us adults figure out what the problem is, the kid is so far behind, that the grade level language arts is beyond their reach anyway. At the very least take the pressure off the child by excessively helping them to get through any homework (read all assignments, scribe their answers etc)so that they are not frustrated or bogged down with excessive hours of homework. Let them focus on learning to read. I’ve recently taken my certification in Barton and have also taken Orton-Gillingham training. Orton is way more labor intensive in prep time and requires considerable training and honestly I don’t think it takes you as far as Barton. As dyslexia is hereditary it can be challenging for some parents to teach their own kids but if you have the ability to discern the sounds (tutor test on the Barton site) appropriately you can do it yourself. Whether you have dyslexia or not, your level of understanding of language/spelling and reading will be greatly enhanced by teaching this program. You learn right along with the student. And yes, I could charge a great deal of money to tutor but I have yet to charge anyone a penny. It’s how I chose to volunteer to my community. I bought the program, which is cheap compared to hiring a tutor. The first couple of levels you may fly through, but the higher levels can take months to get through. You can fly through $300.00 with tutors amazingly fast.

    Someone mentioned that the Barton video is monotone. Just wanted to point out your child does not watch the video, that is for the tutor/parent.

    I tell every parent to do the training themselves if they can. It’s important that you understand how your child learns so that you have reasonable and appropriate expectations and can explain it to the other adults in your child’s life.

    Good luck!

    • Becky


      I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for the insights you shared. I agree that kids benefit the most when their parents are trained. Kids learn better when they are not frustrated. I like how you suggest a positive way to still put your kid(s) in school, set expectations for your student with the teacher, and work hard in this program at home. One of the benefits of being the scribe for my kids is that I got a more in depth picture of how they think because their verbal answers were significantly more elaborate than the short sentence or one word answers they would have provided.

      I never tried the Orton-Gillingham program, so your brief review is helpful.

      Also, I hadn’t thought about the possibility that the previous commenter may have thought the kids needed to watch the videos. Those are definitely too dry for the student and the student would have a hard time learning from the videos.

      Thank you again!


  • Mary

    Hi! Thanks for a great post. I love your money and time saving tips. I’m definitely going to put them in practice. I’m a homeschool mom who is dealing with her own dyslexic son. He just started level four. In the process of our discovery, I’ve shared with others, and am now tutoring another boy age 15 and just today evaluated a little girl who is 8. I’m tutoring them for free in effort to get lots of practice, because I would one day like to become “certified”…and they are friends. I love the cookies sheets and magnets…I love the binders with the wipe off sheet protectors! Great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope you are blessed by others, because you have certainly blessed me! 🙂

    • Becky

      Your comments are exactly why I write posts like this. I really do love to help others make their lives easier. Thank you! Yes, I feel blessed all the time by my friends, and even more so by my family. It is amazing to me how much the program has helped me. I love it so much that I tell others about it as often as I can because I want them to feel successful and blessed as I have been (and still am).

      I think that tutoring for free is very noble and will bless many other people- even if you only tutor the two students for free- because you’ll open the doors of opportunity for them. They’ll in turn be able to choose to bless others. Thank you again for your comments!

  • Sybil fisher

    Great post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Becky

      You’re welcome. I hope it helps you in some way. Thanks for visiting!

  • Terrie

    Hi, I’m on Barton Level 6. A comment about the video style. If dyslexia runs in families then it is quite possible that the video viewer is dyslexic. Ms. Barton’s deliberateness and annunciation is slower, but probably required for a person who needs a little more processing time. We hectic and harried moms may need to slow down a bit for our dyslexic children.

    I lovethis post, I have experienced the same appreciation for this robust, easy to use program. I hope others will not be afraid to use it. Remember, Susan Barton is qualified in many of the other available programs and she developed her own to weave all the best together for the ordinary tutor/ teacher/ mom or dad.So we could all have access with great results. She is also very homeschool friendly and gives you unlimited free support by email. I have gotten a response to all my questions in a day or less.

    • Becky


      I really appreciate your comments. You bring up some great points when it comes to the style of the video tutorials for the parents and other tutors. I find that it does help to take my time during the lessons and not rush through them, similar to Susan’s example. Since I’m not perfect, there were a few times when I rushed through it. What a terrible experience it was for both of us. So, you’re right: S L O W down and let the kids process what you’re presenting. The kids retain what they’re absorbing for the long term and you’ll spend less time going back and reteaching.

      It was also great that you pointed out her qualifications. She really is an expert and her support has been wonderful for us, too.


  • Yvonne

    Thank you for posting this, it has given me some ideas on what to do with all those tiles. My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in 4th grade, with great relief. I was trying to homeschool all 3 of my children, after leaving a brick and mortar school. My daughter was frustrated, as well as myself, and I thought I was failing as a parent. I ordered PACES, from ACE Ministries, so we could go at our own pace. We were still struggling, so then I finally found out about the Barton Reading and Spelling- divine intervention. We are just finishing level 2 and I still struggle with weak faith in myself and that my daughter will actually be able to read and spell… on her own. I have also started my youngest child on level 1, the symptoms are not as severe but there some definite dyslexia tendencies. We are trying to do lessons twice a week for summer and then start back to 3 to 4 times a week during school. I am encourage by your blog and will refer to it frequently, in good times and bad.
    Thanks for sharing and encouraging those of us who are new to the world of homeschooling dyslexic children.

    • Becky


      I enjoyed reading your comments. I think all homeschooling parents, at one time or other, struggle and lack faith in our abilities. It’s normal no matter how much experience one has.

      My goal was to do Barton lessons throughout the summer, too. However, there were fires in my area and we evacuated. Then, I volunteered at cub scout day camp, followed by a week at a family reunion. Perhaps, I’ll have a better track record during July and August. I don’t consider the lack of lessons a set back. We talked about some of the words we knew as we drove around and I read to them when my husband drove.

      I am grateful that all the other people who commented and myself were able encourage you. Thanks for visiting!


  • Mercy Hoyt

    How would you suggest prepairing for the Barton program. I did the student screening with each of my children and it said 2 of them were not ready. They did pass tasks A & B. The odd thing was one child can read and one cannot. The one child who can read did worse on task C then the child who counld not read??? Any sugestions of what I can do to prepare them to begin?

    • Becky

      Before I started the Barton Program with my son, we used the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) program via online classes offered by the virtual school he was enrolled in at the time.

      In my area, Lisa Weaver specializes in helping people to get prepared to use the Barton Program, using the Barton program, and creating a community network of people with dyslexia. I think she has the access to the LiPS program, too. She may have some resources to help you with this, even if it is from a distance. Though, I am sure that in person is preferable.

  • JMC

    I LOVE the details you put in for your Barton review! It is such a help, and there are so many practical suggestions. Barton has been great for us, even though we really just started this journey pretty recently. I was so ignorant when we began Level 1 and Level 2 and second guessed myself constantly. We made it through but those levels would have gone much more smoothly if I had just trusted to the system and followed what Susan Barton instructs you to do. Wish I had read your post back then! 🙂

    We started Level 3 with our two dyslexic children about 2 months ago. When I finally read your review I immediately went out and got a binder, the sheet protectors, some dividers, etc. and made certain that the three ring binder was short enough to fit in the Barton box for easy storage. I wanted to say, it has been wonderful! Things were getting really disorganized and I had spent a lot of time and effort photocopying pages prior to that. The kids love using the markers, too. This has really streamlined my prep time and the flow of the lessons! Thanks!

    I wanted to mention to anyone considering Barton, I think some parents that have written poor reviews on other sites rushed through the program. Especially once you hit Level 3 there are a LOT of rules. When I slowed down and did a lot of review with games, extra practice pages, etc. retention went up, stress went down and the kids were much happier. Especially with a dyslexic child, they really need time, plenty of review, lots of support, etc.

    It is helping me, too, by the way. I did great in Language Arts in school, but I did not know WHY anything was spelled the way it was or WHY a sentence sounds right or wrong and I couldn’t diagram anything to save my life. I just read voraciously from the time I was small and because of that extensive exposure to written material was able to make it through school. However, I wish, wish, wish, I had had Barton. Things make so much more SENSE now!

    Also, another thing I love about this system is that Susan Barton provides a lot of great suggestions for what to do when you have a child that gets stuck or has a bad attitude. Sometimes those suggestions seem silly or a waste of time. However, when I actually took the time to really read through those suggestions, then implemented them the way she says to, they worked! Even with my reluctant pre-teen who DID NOT WANT to do remedial anything did really well after I followed Susan Barton’s suggestions.

    By the way, my daughter struggled horrifically in school to pass spelling tests. She literally studied 7 days a week, plus we would get the lists for the next year over the summer so we could start early. It was exhausting and demoralizing and a colossal waste of her time and mine. She could never retain the sequence of letters past the test she was taking. She suffered through that process all the way through 5th grade before we started homeschooling. Just recently she was administered two separate criterion referenced spelling tests. She did not study the list ahead of time and got a 100 on the first and only missed one on the second. She used the rules and techniques from Barton to figure out the spelling of the words. It was an incredibly precious and wonderful moment for both of us when we got her scores. If only we had known about Barton sooner!

    Finally, for anyone who has a child that failed Section C of the student screening, don’t fret. My son has an auditory processing issue that no other evaluation caught. Susan Barton’s screening test was what finally caught his issue. He failed Section C and missed quite a few questions. As Susan Barton recommends, we remmediated with Linda Mood Bell’s LiPS program, just like you, Becky, only we had to do it on our own (no one in the area). It worked really well. I retested him and he passed Section C, only missing one this time! Big improvement! He is now doing Barton with his sister and now that they are on the same Lesson, I still tutor them separately, but we play board games together based on the Barton system, along with memory and matching and bingo games.

    I had a question or two for you, Becky, if you don’t mind. I plan to give the kids a couple of weeks off between Level 3 and 4 for a break, then give them the post test for Level 3 to make certain they are retaining the information before starting Level 4. Do you think 2 weeks is too long? Do you take time off at all between Levels? One more thing, you said you bought the speller for Level 4 for each of your children. Does this mean that it can’t be shared or reused? I had not thought to purchase a second one for my other child. They are on the same lesson right now. That may change, but my son caught up to my daughter about a month ago and doesn’t want to go past her so I am doing the same lesson with each one, just at different times of the day.

    Sorry to babble on. LOVE your post! It is so helpful to anyone considering or already using Barton.

    • Becky

      I think 2 weeks should be fine. I’ve had to do that a few times and I found that they retained the information very well. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if taking a break from time to time is healthy and helped them to do better.

      As for the speller, it can be used by all your kids for the lessons. I have a son who liked to read and write once he got to the upper levels of Barton. Having an extra one allowed him to continue reading and writing while I was giving his brothers their lessons. You may not need nor want a second.

      Thank you for your compliments. I am about to go out the door and I will come back and answer more of your questions.

      Have a great day!


  • JMC

    Thanks so much for answering my questions. I really appreciate it. I will consider getting a second speller. My daughter is trying to write her own short story in a journal and may need one just for her use…I had not considered it for anything but Barton lessons. I’m sometimes a little slow…hope you and your family are well.

    • Becky

      We are well, thank you. I hope yours is well, too. One of the fun things about discussions is that I get to consider things from another’s point of view. I am glad my point of view was useful for you. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

      Have a great day!


  • Gina

    Hi Becky,
    In doing my research on the Barton System, I happened to come across your review. I’m so glad to hear that it helped your children, and that it is beneficial to kids who aren’t dyslexic. My oldest daughter is 7, and I have thought for a while that she may be dyslexic. I have been so torn about having her tested because of the expense. She is a very smart kid, and does really well in Math, but struggles with reading. When I have reached out to her teacher, she told me that my daughter is at grade level for reading and to continue to work with her from home. I really truly think that the reason she is “on grade level” is because she has memorized shapes of frequent site words, and can use context clues to fill in the blanks. My husband insists that she is a “lazy” reader, and that she does not have any true reading issues other than lack of trying. But when I brought home a book that was in all capital letters, she could not read it! I couldn’t figure out what the problem was because the text was full of general site words that she knows by site, but because they were all capital letters, my theory is that she could not recognize them by shape, and was forced to try and actually read them. It took almost 20 minutes to get through 3 pages. Beyond this, my husband has two brothers that have dyslexia. Anyway, now that I’ve tried to justify a need to help her (I guess I’m a little bit defensive after no support from her teacher and my husband), I am hoping that Barton will be a good investment. Thank you for your review. I also have 2 younger children that could use the system when they get older. I think that will help justify the cost to my husband. How long did it take you to get through level 1? Should I wait until the summer to start, or go ahead and start now?

    Thank you


    • Becky


      Moms tend to be very in tune with their kids’ needs. I have many friends who are still teachers. They do not like the way the current system due to Common Core. Perhaps, your daughter’s teacher feels that she is reading at grade level is due to the different expectations that come with common core. It is my opinion that even if she turns out to not be dyslexic, you’ll help her learn a lot in reading and spelling because there are so many rules that most people are not aware exists. These rules will help her for the rest of her life. Not being able to read and/or spell decreases many kids’ self confidence and self image. If you can find a way to do Barton with her, it will be an act of love that she’ll likely appreciate for the rest of her life.

      If you want to wait until summer, that may be a good time to get started because the stress of state testing, homework, etc won’t be a problem. In fact, it may benefit her because you’ll have a better opportunity to retrain her brain’s way of approaching reading without the interference of school work. I know summer time offers a lot of opportunities, but if you could work with her every day (5-6 days per week) for 30-40 minutes each day, by the end of summer, you’ll see a big difference.

      Much love and appreciation,


  • Cari

    Hi Becky – Thank you for taking the time to write this post and present your video. I have two questions I am hoping you can answer. I am a homeschooling mom overseas and am in the states for a short while. I need to purchase my curriculum before returning. My son has just been diagnosed with dyslexia and I heard about the Barton program as a good system to use. But can I use it as the only reading program for my son? Or is it meant to be a supplemental program? (If you use it as a supplemental progra, what do you use as your main program?) And I would like to know about how quickly one should expect to go through each level. I will be out of the country for nearly 3 years. Should I be purchasing all levels now? My son is 7 and finishing up 1st grade. We are currently working on phonemic awareness. Thanks for any insights you can give!

    • Becky

      Cari, I am not sure why I just found our comment. Usually I find comments and reply to them in a more timely manner. I apologize for taking so long!

      I use Barton Reading and Spelling as my only curriculum for reading and spelling. I would suggest buying the first 5 levels. I would take your time on each level since he is 7. If he were a few years older, he would go through the levels faster. The lessons can become difficult if you move too quickly. If you do happen to complete the 5 levels, spend the rest of your time overseas reviewing. The more solidly he understands the material, the better it will serve him for the rest of his life. It’s not a race to see who can finish the fastest 🙂


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  • Heidi

    I am a retired certified teacher and have successfully used the Barton Reading Program as a tutor for over 10 years. It is absolutely right for most struggling or beginning readers! It is sequential, repetitive, and appropriately paced. I have used it successfully with beginning readers…K/1…and I have begun it struggling 4th and 5th graders, as well as 7th and 8th graders who were struggling. If you follow the protocols, kids WILL learn to read, decode and spell! All were reading at or above grade level after finishing the program. My students are now very success high schoolers!

    I am retiring from teaching and tutoring. I have the entire program with student pages printed out, the tiles, the speller…the whole package…in great shape and all well organized. The levels are still in labeled boxes for easy storage. I bought extra tiles so I could work with multiple students at a time or send the tiles home to practice.

    I would like to sell the whole program – Levels 1-8 – to a family or organization that could make good use of it for $750, plus shipping. (Each level sells individually for $250-$300.) That is a $2300+ value for $750.

    Please email me with any questions or if you would like to purchase the program. Happy Reading and Spelling!

    • Becky


      Thank you for sharing your insights and testimonial. I hope you sell your program soon. Anyone who wants to purchase her Barton supplies can reach her at


  • Nancy


    I have the following questions and hope you could help me:

    1) Could you share with me on how long it takes you to complete Barton Reading & Spelling, Level 1: Phonemic Awareness for your child?
    2) Do you do it every day for 30 minutes?

    I am grateful that you are willing to share your experience. I find it is very helpful. I am consider getting the Barton system for my grandson after I read all your posts. He is having difficulty in reading and spelling. He is 8 yr old and in 3rd grade but his reading is at 2nd grade level. Please keep up your good work and I will check on this site often because it offers so much good information.

    • Becky


      The amount of time to complete a varies for each person because they each have different learning styles, challenges, exposure to different reading material and frequency/length of time between lessons. I wish I could be more precise, but I don’t know him very well and I would not want to tell you a certain amount of time because he may go through it faster than expected or slower than expected. I would make sure to have the next level on hand because most kids do go through level 1 very quickly if lessons are done consistently and if they have relatively few challenges- it sounds like your grandson is doing pretty well by being only one grade behind.

      Yes, I do the lessons 5 days a week for 20-30 minutes (at the age your grandson is) each depending on the attention span and frustration level of the student. Usually, level 1 doesn’t have much to frustrate kids, but they do have to adapt to using the colored tiles to represent sounds.

      Thank you for the compliments!

      Happy reading!

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  • […] four) and six kids in all. Now, I can spend the other four week days focusing on grammar, using the Barton Reading and Spelling program, literature, math, writing, vocabulary, and scripture study. My kids have more hands-on time for […]

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