About Darlene

Darlene Larson

As the founder and owner of The Reading Spelling Connection, I provided one-on-one tutoring and dyslexia consulting services to students of all ages from 2005-2023. During those 19 years, I had the privilege to touch the lives of over 100 students. Now retired from active tutoring, I am excited to share the games I made and used during my tutoring sessions with other tutors, parents, and teachers to use with their students.

I always liked to use games to reinforce the concepts that I was teaching and found that I also enjoyed creating new games to perfectly match the concepts within the Barton System or to help a particular student become more confident with a recently learned reading or spelling rule. 

These games are available for purchase at the Game Store.

Now after retiring from one-on-one tutoring, I am excited to be adding more of my games in the coming months as well.

Darlene’s tutoring years

After being a stay-at-home mom with my three children for 14 years, I took a part-time position at my children’s school as the Reading Teacher and quickly discovered that I didn’t know how to help these young first and second-grade students who were struggling to learn to read. I began to take classes and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in reading. Along the way, I began to learn about dyslexia and the Orton Gillingham approach to teaching reading.

Then, after hearing Susan Barton speak and learning about the Barton Reading & Spelling System® at a state Reading Teacher’s convention in February 2005, my life was changed forever. I ordered the beginning levels and began to use them immediately with my students at school. The next fall, while continuing to teach part-time at my school, I also started to tutor a few students privately, using the Barton System in both teaching situations. My tutoring business grew over the next few years, and then in 2016, I left my teaching position and started to tutor full-time and began tutoring students online as well as in person. Beginning in 2020 all of my tutoring was done online.

Transitioning from tutor to game creator

My husband and I moved to Iowa in 2021 to live close to our daughter and her family. To spend more time with our grandkids, I started to cut back on the number of students that I tutored and gradually ended the one-on-one tutoring part of my life.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to have been able to tutor many students over the years, however, and help them unlock the reading and spelling code of the English language, develop skill and fluency in their reading, and learn to confidently read and spell multi-syllable words. Now, through my games, I hope to help many more children gain a greater confidence in and love for reading.

Darlene’s training and education

  • Certified Master Level Barton Reading and Spelling Tutor, Bright Solutions for Dyslexia
  • Additional Orton Gillingham training, Beginning and Advanced courses
  • Trained as a Handwriting Specialist, Handwriting without Tears
  • Trained in Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS)
  • Trained in Teaching Writing: Structure & Style, Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • MS in Education, UW-Steven’s Point, 2005
  • BS in Elementary Education, UW-Eau Claire, 1979

Darlene lives with her husband Phil in Oelwein, Iowa. Darlene enjoys spending with her three adult children and their families, including their six grandchildren. She is active at their church and enjoys walking, camping, reading, and sewing.