Verticy Success: How Far Can a Course Take You?

I am sitting here staring at a completion certificate for a Verticy Phonics and Spelling program for one of my children. I cannot believe how far a year has taken us. I am celebrating that my child no longer says “I CAN’T SPELL THAT.” (There is no font for moaning.)

We are a long-time Calvert family. My kids learned to read using Calvert’s phonics-based approach, but one of them struggled to spell. He could read on grade level, but could not spell his way out of a paper bag. There are not enough encouraging words in the lexicon of motherhood when your child perceives he is different from his siblings, and he thinks it is his fault. We watched him progress academically, and yet, his spelling was far behind.

Enter the Verticy team, who evaluated him and said, “Yes We Can!” (I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time with a certain grandson and Thomas the Tank Engine of late…) The evaluation was easy. The implementation was only complicated by the fact that I had to be WITH him to accomplish the work.

But the exciting part was that he learned. And, he could take what he learned in his Verticy lessons and adapt it to his learning in other areas. His reading improved. His confidence grew. His task completion became less argumentative – why start if you are going to struggle, right? (At least, that was HIS thinking.)

And here we are, a year of Verticy later, and he is doing SO MUCH BETTER! His confidence has soared as his reading has improved. His willingness to take risks and read aloud in public settings is a marked change. I have watched him, and you can SEE it in his face.

He knows he can do it. And that is worth it all.

Gretchen Roe is the Calvert Community Liaison and has been homeschooling for 20 years. She has used and continues to use the Calvert curriculum to educate her 6 children.

Gretchen hosts a variety of free webinars. She offers Calvert and Verticy Online Information Sessions once a week as well as family seminars on topics ranging from dealing with digital addiction to kick-starting a new school year.


Register for a session or watch a pre-recorded session from the webinar library.

Verticy Student Spotlight: Sam, Age 12

Throughout October, in honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, Verticy Learning is highlighting some of our amazing students with dyslexia.

Twelve-year-old Sam is a very social and active child. When asked how he feels about learning, he responded, “Kinda weird. And hard.” He struggles with reading and spelling, as do many students with dyslexia, but when asked what his favorite school subject is, Sam answered without a moment’s hesitation.

“Math. The best time of the day. And a lot easier for me.”

Outside of learning time, Sam likes to ride dirt bikes, play baseball and soccer, shoot, and play video games. His variety of interests and talents also include the artistic, as he has a knack for drawing. 

We then spoke to Bridget, Sam’s mom, about what she observes about how dyslexia has affected him both now and when he was in public school.

Does Sam ever feel different from other children? How does he handle it?

He feels different all the time and he hates it. For years he was pulled out the classroom. One year they used this woman – who could be used for target practice – who told him he was stupid. He doesn’t like the fact that he’s homeschooled. He’s a social child and he misses his friends.

What would you say to other families who are just finding out that their child is dyslexic?

It’s not the end of the world. Pull out the public school system, definitely.

We asked Sam one final question: What do you think you might like to do when you grow up?

“I’d like to be a fisherman or a dirt bike rider. That’s really all.”

Verticy Student Spotlight: Benjamin, Age 11

Throughout October, in honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, Verticy Learning is highlighting some of our amazing students with dyslexia.

This week, Verticy found an inspirational story in Benjamin, nicknamed Benji, who is 11 years old. In addition to his dyslexia, he has problematic medical issues that require him to carry IV and feeding pumps with him in a backpack. His mother, Penny, admits that he occasionally struggles “with the permanence of his medical issues and their effect on his future.” However, his differences do not stop him from reaching for his goals, and they perhaps motivate him even more to tackle the obstacles he can overcome.

microphonePenny tells us that Benjamin’s favorite school subjects are Geography and Bible Studies, and that outside of learning time he loves to sing. He also adores anything related to football. A sports trivia buff, he wants to pursue sports in his future career.

“He can’t play football because of his medical issues, but he thinks maybe he can coach, or be an announcer, or sports writer… anything related to the sport,” Penny shares.

When asked about other special talents or abilities, Benjamin’s mother points out his natural compassion for those with special needs or medical issues. He can empathize because of his own struggles, and he is a “wonderful self advocate.”

Being a self advocate means understanding your own needs and taking steps to meet them. Self advocacy is shown to be an important step to success when a person has dyslexia or other differences that may require special accommodations.

We asked Penny to speak more directly on Benjamin’s dyslexia.

Does Benjamin ever feel different from other children? How does he handle it?

Everyday. Not because of his dyslexia – because of his medical issues. He feels like he can overcome his learning disabilities with some hard work. Verticy has made a real difference in how he responds to schooling. He is feeling more like other children since we began the program than when we were using the regular Calvert curriculum.

What would you say to other families who perhaps are just finding out that their child is dyslexic?

Persistence and patience is key. As Benji began to work through his dyslexia, his confidence grew and he became so much more sure of himself.

verticy student 

Verticy Student Spotlight: Ethan, Age 12

Throughout October, in honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, Verticy Learning is highlighting some of our amazing students with dyslexia.

One such student is Ethan, who is 12 years old. Despite his reading struggles, he enjoys learning, particularly about science. His mother, Joni, says that Ethan “absolutely loves science.” One of his favorite activities is building things, taking them apart, and re-creating them. He was particularly fascinated with the electricity unit in his science course.

national dyslexia awareness monthLike many children with dyslexia, Ethan has a strong artistic side. He is very musically inclined and loves to play any instrument, especially the guitar and the drums. “Anything to do with music, he loves,” Joni added. He would like to be a musician when he grows up.

We started talking with Ethan’s mother about some of the more challenging aspects of his dyslexia.

What are some things that are really hard for him?

Writing, school work. Reading is a bit of a struggle. Especially analyzing. He could memorize a spelling word one day and then the next day not remember it. Memorizing is hard for him.

Does Ethan ever feel different from other children? How does he handle it?

He handles it pretty well. He’s always felt different because he has different interests. He gets along better with older children, partly because he loves music so much.

What would you say to other families who perhaps are just finding out that their child is dyslexic?

Don’t get discouraged. When we found out and had him tested, he was in second grade. He also has ADHD. They suggested we start over again, back in kindergarten. I was like, no way. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. There are hard days. Don’t beat yourself up. I’ve realized it’s not so much the grade level as much as him learning and getting it, even if it takes a little longer.

Joni told us that before they began using Verticy, his reading skills were very choppy. He had trouble reading individual words, particularly small words. He would get very frustrated.

Since they started with Verticy last year, his reading has improved dramatically. “He loves that the lessons have something new every day,” smiled Joni. “Verticy has boosted his confidence and mine. Even with the price. But with the financial aid, it was worth it. I wish we had found it years ago.”

Dyslexia Facts – National Dyslexia Awareness Month

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, which promotes awareness of dyslexia and the people who deal with it. This month, Verticy will be featuring some of our inspiring students on the blog.

Check back here weekly for Verticy student spotlights and check the Verticy Facebook page daily for dyslexia information and other resources.

In support of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, here are some facts about dyslexia that you can share.

Dyslexia Facts

Children and adults with dyslexia are often quite intelligent and have high IQs. Studies show that IQ and reading skills are not interrelated in children with dyslexia – one does not affect the other.

Dyslexia is not caused by laziness or stupidity – it is a disorder of the brain that interferes with reading and language.

Dyslexia is not a disease. There is no cure. But it can be treated with appropriate teaching (such as the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction).

People with dyslexia can and do have career success. Lawyers, explorers, doctors, actors, businesspeople – there are countless stories of successful professionals who also happen to have dyslexia.

There is no definitive list of symptoms that every dyslexic person has. Children and adults with dyslexia may experience difficulty with word recognition, reading fluency, spelling, writing, or pronunciation.

Verticy Learning is dedicated to helping struggling readers and students with a language-based learning disability such as dyslexia. Our goal is for these students to find academic success, gain more confidence, and begin to love learning. To learn more about Verticy, attend a free online information session.


Dyslexia Study Uncouples Reading and IQ, Psychological Science 2010
Dyslexia, Boston Children’s Hospital
Frequently Asked Questions About Dyslexia, International Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia Basics, LD Online

Differences Between Calvert and Verticy

differences between Calvert and VerticySo, you know you want to educate your child at home. You know that you want a curriculum that is easy to use and includes all the core academic subjects. You found the Calvert homeschool curriculum and its alternative, Verticy Learning.

Now which one do you choose? What are the differences between Calvert and Verticy?

The short answer:

The Calvert program is for students who will benefit from a rigorous and challenging curriculum taught at home.

Verticy Learning is a curriculum intended for students who struggle with reading or who show signs of having a learning difference such as dyslexia. You DO NOT have to be diagnosed with any learning disability to benefit from Verticy.

Read on for a more detailed breakdown.

Differences between Calvert and Verticy:


Calvert offers full curriculum for Grades PreK–8.

Verticy offers core curriculum for Grades 3–8 and four levels of language arts curriculum for what roughly translates to Grades 3–6. The levels correlate to reading levels rather than the traditional age for a certain grade.

Core Subjects

Calvert and Verticy share these core subjects. They use the same textbooks and lesson instruction:

  • Science
  • History/Social Studies
  • Geography
  • Math (although Verticy has an additional math supplement)
  • Art/Art History

Calvert has Reading, and Verticy has Literature. They are not the same content. Verticy Literature uses fewer novels per year and incorporates activities from the Reading A–Z and Raz-Kids websites.

Language Arts Subjects

Calvert has four separate language arts subjects:

  • Phonics
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Composition

Reading and writing skills are fundamental to the Calvert curriculum and move at a faster pace than with Verticy. These subjects cannot be purchased individually.

Verticy Learning Phonics Spelling lesson manual

Verticy combines these four subjects into two courses:

  • Phonics/Spelling
  • Grammar/Composition

They can be purchased separately if desired.

Phonics/Spelling is one subject. Students learn to read from a combination of phonics instruction with spelling instruction. Verticy uses Orton-Gillingham methods specifically designed for students with learning differences.

Grammar/Composition is also combined into one subject. Writing fundamentals are taught using multi-sensory methods and repeated practice.


Both Calvert and Verticy offer free placement testing. Access to professional educators (Education Counselors) comes with any enrollment.

The Advisory Teaching Service is an available option for both programs, as well.

How It Can Be Used

The Calvert program provides a full year’s worth of curriculum for an entire grade. Currently, subjects cannot be purchased separately, except for Math. Thus, Calvert is intended for a full education at home.

Verticy can be sold as a full grade of curriculum with all subjects, but certain subjects can also be purchased separately:

  • Phonics/Spelling
  • Grammar/Composition
  • Core (see above)
  • Literature
  • Math

This means that not only can Verticy be used a full homeschool curriculum, but it can also be used as a supplement. For example, if a child goes to a brick-and-mortar school, Phonics/Spelling could be used after school by the parent or a tutor.

Online Resources

Calvert and Verticy share many online resources, such as:

  • online lesson manuals and e-textbooks
  • Checkpoints (online auto-graded quizzes)
  • Computer Skills lessons
  • supplemental math activities and games
  • BrainPOP/BrainPOP Jr
  • Discovery Education STREAMING
  • Calvert i-Library with Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • Instructional videos (topical videos related to lesson content)

A few resources are specifically for struggling readers and are only available through Verticy:

  • Reading A-Z
  • Raz-Kids
  • Kidspiration and Inspiration
  • Bookshare
  • Kurzweil (optional addition)

Need More Info?

If you would like more detailed information about the differences between Calvert and Verticy, please call the Education Counselors at 1-888-487-4652.

The Circus Comes to Calvert

Calvert recently received quite a treat – a visit from the circus.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus uses Calvert curriculum to educate the children of the performers and other circus employees. Each unit has one teacher for all the children. The Blue Unit, headed up by Mary Kettles, came to visit Calvert recently. Everyone had a blast, and we learned some things about each other, too.

“Wow, a real office building!” exclaimed one of the younger kids. We were glad to provide such excitement.

Calvert circus students

Who wants to visit the Warehouse?

If the circus is your life, boxes can be pretty exciting.

Look how high the ceilings are!

Learning about Calvert Technology… and getting slinkies.

Next, we learned about THEIR school.

The oldest student, in eleventh grade, shows the young ones how it’s done.

We learned about the names of their ponies, llamas, donkeys, and goats.

One student showed off her Calvert-earned knowledge of Hawaiian volcanoes.

The whole gang, plus Calvert’s CEO with a clown nose.

We got prizes from the students! Thanks so much for coming to visit us. We hope you come back very soon!

The day was a great success, and although a few Calvert employees thought about running off to join the circus, everyone had a fun, educational day.

Wondering how one teacher uses Calvert for all 14 (!) students? Read Mary Kettles’ first-hand account of how she uses Calvert in a one-room school setting in Calvert at the Circus: A School Like No Other.

What Verticy Learned at the IDA Conference

We had an amazing time at the 63rd Annual International Dyslexia Association Conference and 1st Annual Parent Conference. After exhibiting and presenting, we had a chance to catch up with old friends and make new friends from around the world.

Didn’t make it this year? We got you covered. Take a look at our pictures and read the most valuable lessons that the Verticy team learned at the IDA Conference.


The Verticy team in action at the IDA Conference

Verticy booth setup

Before: Anne S. getting down and dirty laying the floor down for the Verticy booth in the exhibit hall.


Verticy booth IDA

After: Angela and Michelle preparing to show participants the ins and outs of the Verticy program.


Anne and Cailyn showcasing Verticy in the Exhibit Hall.


Multimedia Presentation

Beth Badorf, a Verticy mom, proudly displays her Verticy Word Cards to Diana King, the author of the Writing Skills books used in the Yellow and Green Levels of the Verticy Grammar and Composition course.


In addition to speaking to families and teachers in the Exhibit Hall, the Verticy team attended presentations from experts in the field on Working Memory, Fluency, Math, and others.

Here’s a sneak peek into our thoughts about the conference:

The IDA conference was an incredible experience. It was remarkable to collaborate with professionals, parents, and individuals of all ages who live with dyslexia. There were several messages that seemed to resonate throughout this year’s conference – the need to improve reading instruction in all teacher education programs and the importance of getting the message out to all people who are affected by someone with dyslexia.

It is an exciting time to be part of Verticy because we are able to help individuals in public, private, and homeschool environments, and these partnerships will be driving Verticy into the 21st century of learning.

 - Michelle “Mic” Dunn, Verticy Learning Specialist


I was thrilled to attend the IDA conference in Baltimore this year. Meeting with the families and teachers who are excited about Verticy was such a wonderful experience. I also had the opportunity to learn more about the effect that dyslexia has on a student’s math skills.

One of the main areas that dyslexic students struggle with is memorizing math facts. Math instruction tends to be verbal, and this makes it very difficult for students who have poor short term memory. Words as well as symbols used in math can be problematic for dyslexic students. There are ways to remediate, including teaching math vocabulary very explicitly, using concrete objects to teach concepts, and teaching steps directly. It is important for parents to be aware of these potential issues in math and provide support as needed.

- Anne Susie, Verticy Curriculum Specialist

Drawing winners

We’d like to announce the winners of the Verticy drawing that was held during the conferences.

  • Professional Conference Winner: Karen L. from Oklahoma
  • Parent Conference Winner: Marianne R. from New York

Congratulations to our winners!  You will be contacted individually and will receive your prizes in the mail.

We hope to see you all at next year’s conferences. OR you can come visit us at the 50th Annual International Learning Disabilities Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from February 13–16, 2013.

And one more thing…

We have decided to extend our Verticy 10% off sale until Thursday, November 15. The conference reminded us all of just how important this type of solution is for struggling students, so take advantage of this opportunity to help your child love learning again.