The Matthew Effect Explains Why Early Reading Intervention Is Key

orton gillingham reading gap reading intervention the matthew effect Jun 19, 2023
frustrated child due to reading difficulties

Are you concerned about your child's reading ability?

Perhaps they've been struggling with reading, and you're wondering if there's something more going on, like dyslexia or another learning challenge.

Don't worry, you're not alone.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the fascinating Matthew Effect theory and how it relates to your child's reading journey.

We'll explore the importance of early intervention and introduce you to an evidence-based teaching approach specifically designed for literacy intervention, called Orton Gillingham. So, grab a cup of tea, sit back, and let's embark on this learning adventure together!


The Matthew Effect Theory: A Story About Two Little Kids.
Imagine two children, Alex and Sam, both starting their reading journey at the same time. Alex finds reading a breeze and quickly becomes engrossed in books. The more Alex reads, the more fluent and confident he becomes.

On the other hand, Sam struggles with reading, finding it difficult to sound out words and comprehend the text. The more Sam struggles, the more discouraged they feel, leading to a lack of motivation to read.

The Matthew Effect theory, coined by sociologist Robert K. Merton, describes this diverging path. It suggests that early differences in reading skills can lead to a snowball effect, either propelling a child toward reading success (like Alex) or causing them to fall further behind (like Sam). This disparity tends to widen over time, creating a significant gap in reading ability between the two children.



What Else Can Happen If Reading Difficulties Go Untreated?

Now, let's take a closer look at the common consequences of not addressing reading difficulties early on and why reading interventionists such as myself get so fired up when parents get told to 'wait and see' if it all clicks. 

Frustration and Low Self-Esteem: When children struggle with reading, they often feel frustrated and develop low self-esteem. They may compare themselves to their peers, which can lead to a loss of confidence and a negative impact on their overall well-being.

Academic Challenges: Reading is the foundation of learning in almost all subjects. Difficulties in reading can impede progress in other areas such as math, science, and social studies. Your child may struggle to understand word problems, comprehend textbooks, or express their thoughts in writing.

Limited Opportunities: Reading is an essential skill for success in life. It opens doors to a world of knowledge, imagination, and opportunity. Without strong reading skills, your child may miss out on higher education, fulfilling careers, and the joy of lifelong learning.


Early Intervention And The Key to Success.

Now that we understand the consequences of not addressing reading difficulties, let's explore the solution: early intervention. The good news is that there are evidence-based teaching approaches, like the Orton Gillingham method, that can make a significant difference in your child's reading journey.

The Orton Gillingham Approach: Think of the Orton Gillingham method as a skilled guide who accompanies your child on their reading adventure. It's a multisensory approach that combines auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic techniques to help children develop strong reading foundations.

Phonics Instruction: Orton Gillingham focuses on teaching the relationship between sounds and letters, helping children decode words and improve spelling skills.

Structured Lessons: The approach provides structured lessons that build upon previous knowledge, reinforcing concepts and ensuring a strong foundation for reading success.

Individualised Learning: Orton Gillingham recognises that every child learns differently. It tailors instruction to meet the specific needs of each student, making learning engaging and effective.
As a parent, you play a vital role in your child's reading journey. By understanding the Matthew Effect theory and the consequences of untreated reading difficulties, you can empower yourself to take action. Early intervention, using evidence-based approaches such as Orton Gillingham, can unlock your child's reading potential and set them on a path to success.


Parents, This Is Your Take Away...

Remember, you hold the key to unlocking your child's reading success. With early intervention and the right approach, you can help your child overcome reading challenges and open up a world of possibilities. So, take that first step, advocate for your child, find the right support and watch their reading skills soar. Together, we can turn the tale of two readers into a story of triumph and achievement!

If your child is having reading difficulties, find a Dyslexia Intervention Specialist to run some high quality evidence-based assessments with your child. The assessments should be normed against other kids of the same age and assess your child's reading and spelling abilities. This way the Dyslexia Intervention Specialist can determine if you child is behind compared to peers, determine gaps in knowledge and formulate goals and a plan for remediation for your child to bring up their literacy skills.

Contact us at All Kids Can Education if you would like more information. 

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