Even before the pandemic, statistics revealed that our students had not been faring well in academics, particularly in reading. The results of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) in 2019 showed that 10% of Filipino grade 5 students are barely meeting the acceptable standards of reading. This survey, conducted before the worldwide coronavirus pandemic of 2020, also suggests that students have been lagging behind in other areas of academics.
Now that face-to-face classes have resumed after more than two years of distance learning, it's crucial for our students to cope with the magnitude of learning loss they’ve faced. And this is where reading and reading comprehension comes in.
Reading Rockets, a media literacy initiative, defines reading comprehension as the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make connections between what they read and what they already know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of reading comprehension:
Language development. It improves our children’s grasp of the language in terms of vocabulary and grammar. Consequently, their ability to communicate verbally and in writing improves as well.
Critical thinking. When children read, they learn to analyze and evaluate information, make connections, and draw conclusions from what they read. This leads to the development of problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Imagination and creativity. Reading comprehension nurtures children's imagination and creativity. When they comprehend and engage with stories, they visualize characters and settings, creating a rich mental imagery. This imaginative engagement sparks creativity and encourages children to think beyond the text, fostering their overall cognitive development.
Academic success. Children with strong reading comprehension abilities can understand and analyze texts across various subjects, leading to better performance in school. Hence, reading is a foundational skill needed by students throughout their school life.
Now that we have covered the benefits of reading comprehension, how can we help our children achieve it?
Read aloud to your kids. By reading aloud to your youngsters on a regular basis fluently, not only do they get exposed to appropriate intonation, pace, and expression, but it also improves their listening comprehension. Children become motivated to develop their own reading skills when they see adults reading fluently.
Encourage active reading. Encourage your children to look for unfamiliar words, ask open-ended questions, make predictions, and summarize texts. By doing so, they will be able to broaden their understanding about what they are reading and improve their critical-thinking skills.
Provide a cozy space for reading. Designate a quiet reading place with access to a range of age-appropriate books and reading materials, and schedule dedicated reading time. A cozy reading space invites them to read more!
Make connections on what they learn. Deepen your kids’ reading comprehension by encouraging them to relate the content to their prior knowledge, own experiences, and the world around them.
Foster a love for reading. Make reading an enjoyable and rewarding experience for your children. Reward them and celebrate their reading achievements so that they develop a lifelong habit of reading.
Both learning and reading are interrelated skills. Reading helps to acquire knowledge. It's important that we're able to ensure that our children develop a habit of reading on a regular basis. This will improve their levels of reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. It’s a collective responsibility that we should all take so no one is left behind.
By Ma. Teresa C. Guballa
Updated June 21, 2023