I know many homeschooling parents are often looking at these two Orton-Gillingham (OG) based programs and wondering about the differences, so I thought I'd share these details for those who may be interested in hearing some thoughts on the two different programs. Either would work well for a student with dyslexia, provided they are implemented with fidelity. These are tools - and to be most effective, they must use as directed!
Barton and Wilson are both OG programs and both have their positives, however, they are at very different ends of the spectrum in both price and guidance. I will just list a few differences I can think of right now. . .
Barton is much more expensive, but the lessons are scripted and you get more support in the form of DVD training for each level and the ability to email Susan if you get stuck or have a question.
Wilson is much less expensive, but the lessons are not scripted and the support not quite so readily available (okay, well there's my fabulous reading group that has other Wilson users to network with - but help from the company can be a few days coming if you need it) If you purchase the Deluxe Kit (and this full set is what *I* recommend to parents starting with Wilson) it does come with everything you need including a set of "Overview Training DVD's" that I think are excellent for getting the gist of the program and developing a deeper understanding of the dyslexic learner.
(Do not confuse Wilson Reading System with Wilson Fundations. These are different programs.)
Barton does a better job of covering accented vs. unaccented syllables and explaining why this matters.
Barton teaches a student how to actually "use" a spell checker, Wilson just recommends the use of one.
Barton jumps into syllable division as it simultaneously begins to introduce syllable types (I think this can be overwhelming for some dyslexic kids - too much too soon. Level 4 is particularly meaty in that sense.) But so long as you take whatever time the student needs to "get it", it should be fine I reckon!
Barton does a better job teaching syllable division using the tiles. I love the tiles for this!! Wilson does do this with the sound cards, but the instruction for *you* is not quite as explicit as it is in Barton.
Wilson has plenty of practice via the workbooks and readers. The readers offer practice in words, sentences, and stories, plus the children get to chart their own progress which I think is very motivating. I personally believe this review and controlled text practice is vital! IMHO, Barton is short on practice and review in this respect.
Barton does a better job of incorporating "sight words". Wilson has them listed in the "rules" book, but there is really no reference to them in the lesson plan, nor much guidance for introduction and mastery of these words as you progress through the levels.
Wilson offers much more dictation practice, including sounds, words, nonsense words, and sentences for each step along the way. Again, I think this consistent and repetitive practice is essential!
Barton ultimately goes into much more advanced concepts if you go through ALL of the levels.
Barton seems to introduce material at a much faster pace (could possibly be too fast for some children). Wilson is more purposeful in scope and sequence, but slower overall in pace (often good for the dyslexic learner, but harder for the Mom who wants to hurry up and get through it!)
Important Note: Barton levels maintain a high resale value, however, be sure to buy an extra set of tiles upfront if you plan to resell it! The levels are cumulative and aside from level one, you will need the tiles from the previous levels as you progress through the program. If you buy used, make sure it has tiles included!
Anyway, those are just a few things to consider, I invite others to jump in and share what their experience has been with one program or the other via the comment section below!
Here are some additional comments from a couple other members on my "Heart of Reading" group. . .
The Wilson materials are great when I need more practice materials...I agree that Barton doesn't offer enough practice sometimes. Wilson doesn't explain things as well, and the Barton tiles are more fun than the cards. One thing I love about the Barton is that you don't have to use the script. The summaries in the side columns are fantastic. I also like the hand motions. My students really like the hand motions, too.
Just a reminder that Barton has extra practice sheets on their website. You need a password to access them. Just email Susan and you'll get one quickly. There is also an awkward little games section on their website, but kids are so use to bells and whistle type games that they aren't as much fun. The only thing I hate about the Barton DVD's is Susan's monotone. UGH! I could never tutor like that. I am all about upbeat and positive!
Hope this information is useful to someone! To see my review of All About Spelling click here AAS Review.