The Erwins

Creative Endeavors from the Heartland

Who Am I and why should I be your Tutor:

Hi, my name is April Erwin. I'm a 1995 honors graduate of Center Place Restoration School. I'm also a writer and an avid reader. So why does that make me the right person to tutor you? Because I am passionate about literacy and I feel God calling me to share that with others.


Recently a life long friend contacted me about tutoring her 8 year-old granddaughter. The girl was struggling with her reading and regardless of extra tutoring with her teacher and plenty of practice at home, she was falling further behind. My friend was feeling a little desperate. I agreed to tutor her granddaughter, even though I wasn't quite sure how I would help her.


After meeting with the girl a couple of times, it was obvious that she was dyslexic. I asked her mother if she had been tested. No, the public school wouldn't pay for the testing and the family couldn't afford specialized testing or tutoring with mainstream programs.


I was so sad to know that this very bright and engaging child was not receiving the help she needed. Reading and spelling skills are at the core of all of our other educational programs. Without the ability to read or spell, she would struggle in all of her other classes as well. If left unchecked, she could eventually face adulthood with illiteracy problems. Finding a job, grocery shopping, scripture study... so many things would be a stumbling block to her success.


That started me on a web search to find ways of tutoring the dyslexic and reading challenged. I spent hours pouring over different teaching and tutoring sites looking for help. I prayed about it and asked God to lead me to something that would help change this girl's life.


On my second day of searching, I came across information regarding the Orton-Gillingham approach to tutoring dyslexic individuals. I was thrilled, this sounded exactly like what I needed. I began looking for more information and that's when I found The Barton Reading and Spelling program. It was a perfect fit. I got so excited that I had goose bumps. I knew that this is what I needed to teach my friend's granddaughter. Not only that, but I could make a difference to a lot of people.


A testimony of a man I knew as a child came to mind. He struggled with reading and wanted to read the Book of Mormon for himself. He prayed about it and God blessed him by sending an Angel to help him. The Angel would lay his hand on the man's shoulder and this allowed him to read. He read the entire Book of Mormon for himself with the Angel's assistance.


That testimony stuck with me. It made me realize at a very young age that reading was more than just fun, it was imperative in our lives. Without the ability to read well, our friend couldn't even read God's word for himself. Remembering that testimony as I looked for tutoring alternatives impressed me even more that my tutoring was more than just something I wanted to do, it was a calling. 


Then I looked at the cost of the training materials. I was currently unemployed and living on unemployment. There was no way I could afford to purchase the materials and that made me want to cry. I went to bed that night praying hard. I told God that I wanted to do this to help people. That I felt it was a calling and my whole life had been leading to this moment. My love for reading and writing had always been so great, that I couldn't imagine not having it be a part of my life. I asked that if this was what God wanted me to do, that He would provide the funds needed to purchase the materials, because I couldn't afford them.


The next day, I told both my mother and my sister about the experience. My excitement was contagious and so was the presence of the Holy Spirit. Both of them felt the confirmation that I had. This was something God was calling me to do. To complete the experience, I was donated enough money to purchase the first 2 levels of training materials to get me started. As time has passed I've been blessed to be able to expand my levels in training. 


There was my answer to prayer. I know there is more to this than just assisting a friend's granddaughter. It was a call to help everyone who needs the training. 



What is the Barton System?


The Barton Reading & Spelling System teaches people from all walks of life how to learn despite dyslexia.


  • Orton-Gillingham influenced

The Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Method was developed in the early 1930's by Anna Gillingham and a group of master teachers. Dr. Samuel Orton assigned Anna's group the task of designing a whole new way of teaching the phonemic structure of our written language to people with dyslexia. The goal was to create a sequential system that builds on itself in an almost 3-dimensional way. It must show how sounds and letters are related and how they act in words; it must also show how to attack a word and break it into smaller pieces. And it must be a multi-sensory approach, as dyslexic people learn best by involving all of their senses: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic.

The Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Method is different from other reading methods in two ways: what is taught, and how it is taught.

What is taught?

  • Phonemic Awareness is the first step. You must teach someone how to listen to a single word or syllable and break it into individual phonemes. They also have to be able to take individual sounds and blend them into a word, change sounds, delete sounds, and compare sounds -- all in their head. These skills are easiest to learn before someone brings in printed letters.


  • Phoneme/Grapheme Correspondence is the next step. Here you teach which sounds are represented by which letter(s), and how to blend those letters into single-syllable words.


  • The Six Types of Syllables that compose English words are taught next. If students know what type of syllable they're looking at, they'll know what sound the vowel will make. Conversely, when they hear a vowel sound, they'll know how the syllable must be spelled to make that sound.


  • Probabilities and Rules are then taught. The English language provides several ways to spell the same sounds. For example, the sound /SHUN/ can be spelled either TION, SION, or CION. The sound of /J/ at the end of a word can be spelled GE or DGE. Dyslexic students need to be taught these rules and probabilities.


  • Roots and Affixes, as well as Morphology are then taught to expand a student's vocabulary and ability to comprehend (and spell) unfamiliar words. For instance, once a student has been taught that the Latin root TRACT means pull, and a student knows the various Latin affixes, the student can figure out that retract means pull again, contract means pull together, subtract means pull away (or pull under), while tractor means a machine that pulls.


How it is taught

  • Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction: research has shown that dyslexic people who use all of their senses when they learn (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic) are better able to store and retrieve the information. So a beginning dyslexic student might see the letter A, say its name and sound, and write it in the air -- all at the same time.


  • Intense Instruction with Ample Practice: instruction for dyslexic students must be much more intense, and offer much more practice, than for regular readers.


  • Direct, Explicit Instruction: dyslexic students do not intuit anything about written language. So, you must teach them, directly and explicitly, each and every rule that governs our written words. And you must teach one rule at a time, and practice it until it is stable in both reading and spelling, before introducing a new rule.


  • Systematic and Cumulative: by the time most dyslexic students are identified, they are usually quite confused about our written language. So you must go back to the very beginning and create a solid foundation with no holes. You must teach the logic behind our language by presenting one rule at a time and practicing it until the student can automatically and fluently apply that rule both when reading and spelling. You must continue to weave previously learned rules into current lessons to keep them fresh and solid. The system must make logical sense to our students, from the first lesson through the last one.


  • Synthetic and Analytic: dyslexic students must be taught both how to take the individual letters or sounds and put them together to form a word (synthetic), as well as how to look at a long word and break it into smaller pieces (analytic). Both synthetic and analytic phonics must be taught all the time.


  • Diagnostic Teaching: the teacher must continuously assess their student's understanding of, and ability to apply, the rules. The teacher must ensure the student isn't simply recognizing a pattern and blindly applying it. And when confusion of a previously-taught rule is discovered, it must be retaught.

  • Supported by independent scientific research

The Barton Reading & Spelling System was released in June of 1999.

Here are the independent research reports that have been published and/or received to date.

Florida Center for Reading Research  

The mission of the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) is:

  • To conduct basic research on reading, reading growth, reading assessment, and reading instruction that will contribute to the scientific knowledge of reading and benefit students in Florida and throughout the nation
  • To disseminate information about research-based practices related to literacy instruction and assessment for children in pre-school through 12th grade.
  • To conduct applied research that will have an immediate impact on policy and practices related to literacy instruction in Florida.
  • To provide technical assistance to Florida's schools and to the State Department of Education for the improvement of literacy outcomes in students from pre-K through 12th grade.

Florida Center for Reading Research recently published a glowing report on the Barton Reading & Spelling System on their website. To read their report, go to:


Arkansas RTI Study

The Benton School District in Arkansas implemented an early intervention, Response To Intervention (RTI) program in all four of their elementary schools. They screened their kindergarten and first grade students using Dibels to identify students at risk of reading failure -- and used Dibels to monitor the success of each type of intervention.

The Barton Reading & Spelling System was used as Tier 3 Intervention for students in the highest risk category. Groups of no more than 3 students received Barton tutoring at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes per session.

To view the spectacular results of this study, go to:


Florida Dyslexia Study - more than 2 years gain in 40 weeks

Independent research conducted in Florida at two different Speech-Language clinics showed more than 2 years of gain in decoding and reading comprehension, and more than 1.5 years of gain in fluency, after 40 weeks of one-on-one Barton tutoring.

All of the participants had documented reading deficits due to dyslexia. They ranged from first graders to sixth graders. 52% of the children came from households below the poverty level.37% attended public school, 31.5% attended private school, and 31.5% were homeschooled.

Students were pre and post tested using the Phonetic Reading Test (PRT).

To read the study, and their impressive results, go to:


West Virginia Special Education Study

Although this study only included 6 special education students who were classified as Learning Disabled, it tracked those students over two years. The first year they did not receive Barton tutoring. The second year they received two 45-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions per week.

Their growth, per their results on the state standards tests, are as follows:

Grade at end of study

Year ending

Gains in Grade Equivalents

Gains in Independent Reading Level

Year End
Grade Equivalent

Student A 4th Grade





Student B
5th Grade





Student C
5th Grade





Student D
6th Grade





Student E
5th Grade





Student F
4th Grade





Christine Taylor-Redmond
Mineral Wells Elementary
Mineral Wells, WV


Texas TAKS Study

Three years ago, we started using the Barton Reading & Spelling System in a small way in our district. We had 7 students who had not been able to pass the TAKS end-of-year statewide standards test. They flunked it all 3 times they were allowed to take it.

After only 9 months of one-on-one Barton tutoring for 45 minutes a day, all 7 students passed the TAKS test -- 2 with commendations, and 2 with perfect scores.

Last year, we expanded our use of the Barton System to the 55 students identified with dyslexia in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. At the end of those grades, 53 of the 55 passed the TAKS test the first time they took it. (The 2 students who did not pass started Barton tutoring very late in the school year.)

That's why this year, we will be using the Barton Reading & Spelling System with struggling students in every school in our district.

Ernie Maldanado, Dyslexia Specialist
Weslaco School District

Weslaco, TX


Alaska Dyslexia Study - 2 years gain in 6 months

As part of a multi-year grant, four school districts in Alaska are testing students for dyslexia, then providing those students with one-on-one tutoring using the Barton Reading & Spelling System.

In early October, 45 of those students from grades 2 through 11 were given Form A of the GORT to establish "before" scores. Students in the elementary grades were then given 2 to 3 hours of one-on-one Barton tutoring per week. Middle and high school students received 5 hours per week. Those same 45 students were given form B of the GORT 6 months later, in April, to measure their progress.Their average growth rate was 2 years -- in just 6 months of Barton tutoring. To view their before-and-after data, click here. Camille Booth, the director of the STRIVE Dyslexia Program shared that her program is now serving 140 students in four public school districts in or near Craig, Alaska.

To view the data from the study and details of the STRIVE Dyslexia Program, go to:


Florida Early Intervention Study  

Discovery Elementary School in Palm Beach, Florida, screened all first graders in January using DIBELS. They took the 20 lowest-scoring at-highest-risk students and provided 3 months of small-group instruction using the Barton Reading & Spelling System. In April, after just 3 months of intervention, 17 of the 20 studentsí scores were above the DIBELS benchmark in Nonsense Word Fluency, which tests the ability to read by sounding out.

Their before-after scores were:


NWF Before

NWF After

% increase




490 %




91 %


0, No Score






12 %




1800 %


0, No Score






13 %




209 %




111 %




36 %




129 %




26 %




120 %




156 %




42 %




150 %




-18 %




58 %




195 %




42 %

Now that I have data to show such incredible improvement, my principal has agreed to allow K-2 intervention using the Barton Reading & Spelling System to take place all year long this coming school year.

Sue Hoyt
Discover Elementary School
Palm Beach, FL


California Early Intervention Study  

This study was written up as an independent scientific journal article, which has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. It shows statistically significant gains in phonemic awareness, rapid naming, and phonological memory after only 5 months of twice-a-week tutoring using the Barton System. To read this article, click here.


Pleasanton (CA) USD Volunteer Tutors Study  

To view the gains made by volunteer tutors using the Barton System in the Pleasanton Unified School District, watch the presentation they recently made to the California School Board Association, click here.

Here's a 3-minute You-Tube video from Christina Clark, their Barton Facilitator, explaining their program and sharing their before-and-after research data.

Here is a 3-minute You-Tube video from a student who did not get the right type of help until high school -- and the difference it made.

By the way, that student just graduated and joined the Marines. He scored so high on their aptitude test that they put him straight into Aeronautical Engineering.


Data from Juvenile Corrections and Private LD Schools

To view this unsolicited independent before-after data from five unusual school sites, ranging from Byron's Boys Ranch (a juvenile correction facility) to a private school for students with learning disabilities, click here.


As more research articles are written, we will post them.


  • Meets No Child Left Behind requirements

The No Child Left Behind Act provides funding to ensure that every student can read at grade level or above not later than the end of grade 3.

It also includes legal definitions of reading, reading instruction, and reading research.

The Barton Reading & Spelling System fulfills all of the NCLB definition, components, and research requirements.

NCLB Definition of Reading

A complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:

  • skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes or speech sounds are connected to print
  • the ability to decode unfamiliar words
  • the ability to read fluently
  • sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension
  • the development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print, and
  • the development and maintenance of a motivation to read


NCLB Essential Components of Reading Instruction

Explicit systematic instruction in:

A: Phonemic Awareness

B: Phonics

C: Vocabulary Development

D: Reading Fluency, including oral reading skills

E: Reading Comprehension strategies

NCLB requires that schools use reading programs that are based on scientific reading research
Independent scientific research exists to prove the effectiveness of the Barton System.

To view that research, click here.

What is a Level and How many are there?

The Barton Reading and Spelling program has 10 Levels.



Name of Level


Phonemic Awareness


Consonants & Short Vowels


Closed Syllables and Units


Syllable Division & Vowel Teams


Prefixes and Suffixes


Six Reasons for Silent-E


Vowel-R Syllables


Advanced Vowel Teams


Influences of Foreign Languages


Greek Words & Latin Roots

The level numbers do NOT equate to grade level. They simply indicate the sequence in which the material must be taught.


All students must start with Level 1, regardless of their current grade status. Thatís because research proves that a lack of phonemic awareness is what is preventing them from mastering reading. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate each sound in a word Ė in your head, without letters.

In fact, research shows there are seven essential phonemic awareness skills a student must have before letters will start to make sense. We teach all seven of those skills in Level 1.

So what are the seven essential phonemic awareness skills?

NIH research has repeatedly demonstrated that lack of phonemic awareness is the root cause of reading failure. Phonemes are the smallest unit of SPOKEN language, not written language.

Children who lack phonemic awareness are unable to distinguish or manipulate SOUNDS within SPOKEN words or syllables. They would be unable to do the following tasks:

  • Phoneme Segmentation: what sounds do you hear in the word hot? What's the last sound in the word map?
  • Phoneme Deletion: what word would be left if the /k/ sound were taken away from cat?
  • Phoneme Matching: do pen and pipe start with the same sound?
  • Phoneme Counting: how many sounds do you hear in the word cake?
  • Phoneme Substitution: what word would you have if you changed the /h/ in hot to /p/?
  • Blending: what word would you have if you put these sounds together? /s/ /a/ /t/
  • Rhyming: tell me as many words as you can that rhyme with the word eat.

If a child lacks phonemic awareness, they will have difficulty learning the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent in words, as well as applying those letter/sound correspondences to help them "sound out" unknown words.

So children who perform poorly on phonemic awareness tasks via oral language in kindergarten are very likely to experience difficulties acquiring the early word reading skills that provide the foundation for growth of reading ability throughout elementary school.

Phonemic awareness skills can and must be directly and explicitly taught to children who lack this awareness.

Phonemic awareness must exist or be explicitly and directly taught BEFORE phonics instruction begins. Otherwise, the phonics instruction will not make sense to the dyslexic child.

Phonological processing refers to understanding of sounds used in our language, ranging from big chunks of sound (words), to smaller chunks (syllables) and eventually to phonemic awareness (every sound within a syllable). Both phonemic awareness and phonological processing are auditory processing skills. Therefore, they can (and should) be taught before letters are introduced.

The goal of teaching phonics is to link the individual sounds to letters, and to make that process fluent and automatic, for both reading and spelling. In other words, phonics teaches students symbol-to-sound and sound-to-symbol.

But for phonics to work, a student must first have solid phonological processing and phonemic awareness.


Do I have to be dyslexic to use this tutoring program?

No. Even if you have never tested positive for dyslexia, this is still a great program. Reading and spelling is one of the hardest subjects to teach. Bartonís program is completely comprehensive. So if you homeschool, this program can completely replace your reading and spelling sessions. Or, if you just want to strengthen your current reading skills, this program makes that possible by building all of the essential materials into a solid platform.

However, the Barton program is not an ESL (English as a Second Language) program. You must be able to speak English in order to use the program.

What is Dyslexia?


Before the National Institutes of Health began their research in the 1980's, the only definition of dyslexia was an exclusionary one. If a child's difficulty with reading could not be explained by low intelligence, poor eye sight, poor hearing, inadequate educational opportunities, or any other problem, then the child must be dyslexic.

That definition was not satisfactory to parents, teachers, or researchers. So here are three different definitions in use today.

Simple Definition: Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native languageódespite at least average intelligence.

Revised definition from the International Dyslexia Association: Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.

Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.

Research definition used by the National Institutes of Health: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Learning Disability: Learning Disability is not a specific term; it is a category containing many specific disabilities, all of which cause learning to be difficult. The following definition of "learning disability" is used for legislative, financial, and educational purposes only. It is NOT a definition of dyslexia, which is one specific learning disability.

The term 'learning disability' means a disorder in one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding spoken or written language. It may show up as a problem in listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling or in a person's ability to do math, despite at least average intelligence.

The term does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or physical handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Cause of Dyslexia: Dyslexia is an inherited condition. Researchers have determined that a gene on the short arm of chromosome #6 is responsible for dyslexia. That gene is dominant, making dyslexia highly heritable. It definitely runs in families.

Dyslexia results from a neurological difference; that is, a brain difference. People with dyslexia have a larger right-hemisphere in their brains than those of normal readers. That may be one reason people with dyslexia often have significant strengths in areas controlled by the right-side of the brain, such as artistic, athletic, and mechanical gifts; 3-D visualization ability; musical talent; creative problem solving skills; and intuitive people skills.

In addition to unique brain architecture, people with dyslexia have unusual "wiring". Neurons are found in unusual places in the brain, and are not as neatly ordered as in non-dyslexic brains.

In addition to unique brain architecture and unusual wiring, f/MRI studies have shown that people with dyslexia do not use the same part of their brain when reading as other people. Regular readers consistently use the same part of their brain when they read. People with dyslexia do not use that part of their brain, and there appears to be no consistent part used among dyslexic readers.

It is therefore assumed that people with dyslexia are not using the most efficient part of their brain when they read. A different part of their brain has taken over that function.


Why is it right for me or my child?

The Barton Reading and Spelling Program was designed by Susan Barton. She originally created the program, based on the Orton-Gillingham studies, for an adult illiteracy program. The success was so great; she revised the program to be accessible to children as well.


The program was built to work with all ages, from children age five to adult. It was created to engage all ages and not be offensive to older teens or adults who might feel belittled or offended by other programs geared only toward young children.


Itís never too late to learn to read or improve the reading skills you already have. Reading is the foundation of our lives. Itís needed for the simplest tasks. Reading labels on packaging, reading instructions or reports on the job, or even reading the scriptures for yourself. Everything is built on being able to read and study for yourself.


How much does it cost and how do I set up a tutoring session?

Many Tutoring or Literacy programs would cost too much to be accessible to the average income. I believe I can make a difference by keeping my costs low and my fees reasonable.


In order to become a student there is a short quiz (takes about 5 minutes) that I give to allow me to see your current level. Once the quiz is complete, we can set up a tutoring schedule that works best for you.


Iím available for tutoring Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 p.m. Morning sessions during the week may be available; please contact me for further information.


All students must have a minimum of 2 hours of tutoring a week. You can break those sessions down into 30 minute or 1 hour sessions. If you want to tutor more than two hours a week, thatís great.


The cost is $20.00 an hour. Payment is required at the beginning of each month. Itís very important to not miss sessions. The student needs the steady weekly training to avoid lapsing in their studies. The repetition and stability of a schedule is vital to training the brain.


If you know in advance of payment that you will be unavailable during that month, I will make concessions for that week of payment, but I need to know in advance of that monthís payment.  If a student misses a session for any reason, 1 free makeup session will be allowed. The time of the makeup session will depend on my current schedule, but Iíll do all I can to accommodate the student. If more than one session is missed, payments for those sessions are forfeited.

How can I help?

If you would like to help others read; your donations can make a big difference. There are materials that need to be purchased to continue the training. You might also consider sponsoring a childís tutoring.


If you would like to donate funds to help me cover supplies and training materials, you can click paypal

  or contact me for more information.


If you would like to sponsor a student, please contact me and I will be happy to discuss who you might be able to assist.



Contact Me

April Erwin

3203 N Delaware St.

Independence, MO 64050


816-560-0633 Ė Please put Barton Tutoring in your subject line.

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