What is ‘The Matthew effect’ when it comes to reading instruction?
This idea (mooted by Keith Stanovich) is that children who learn to read in the first three years of their education become fluent readers. They read more, learn more vocabulary which then enables them to read more and comprehend more advanced texts and so they advance further.
The children who fail to learn to read, read less, are less fluent, have a poorer vocabulary, comprehend less and the gap just keeps on growing. It is the principle of ‘The rich get richer and the poor get poorer’.
This is why is essential that all children are offered a structured systematic phonics programme – as science tells us this is the best way for all to learn to read. This method is essential for most and can’t harm those who don’t need it.