A lot of tutorial centers brag that they can get students to read by X amount of days. Some say 7 days. Some say a month. Others say 15 days. Some schools also use that program also to train students for literacy. However, there is a common misunderstanding wherein people think that reading and comprehension are one and the same thing. 

Unfortunately, they’re not.

And forcing a child to read is not the way to get them to learn how to read. Children who are forced to read suffer anxieties due to parental pressure. Though parents fear that their children will lose the “rat race” and they will lose face, since they did not meet social standards, forcing them is no way to go around it either.

Sure, children can aspire, but they have to aspire at their own pace. When they want to learn how to read then, help them. But don’t force it all of a sudden. In fact, by teaching only reading, you leave out their ability to actually understand the situation!

What is the difference between Reading and Comprehension?

Reading is when an individual is capable of pronouncing the words. There’s intonation, pronunciation, and at a higher level: able to perceive the rhythm in the words. 

However, comprehension is different. Comprehension requires a person to understand what they are reading. That is why these subjects are separated as Reading and Comprehension. These two things come hand-in-hand especially when it comes to reading through books.

We understand that parents are anxious to get their children to read. However, getting your children to read is one thing. But if they can’t even tell the difference between a cat and a dog despite being able to read; there’s definitely going to be a problem there.

But I don’t want my child to be delayed!

The concept of children being delayed is not always a bad thing. Some children are delayed in a certain area because of a variety of things. Some of these things may be in the method of how they learn. This is seen in Howard Gardner’s (1983) theory of Multiple Intelligence:

“Anything that is worth teaching can be presented in many different ways. These multiple ways can make use of our multiple intelligences.”   – Howard Gardner, 1983

In other words, if something is worth teaching, that means it can be presented in different ways. Like when a child learns English, children learn it through their parents. Through Social Learning theory, they learn from a more experienced individual which in this case is the parents. But if your child speaks more Tagalog and has difficulty in English then, it may also mean that the parents are more native Tagalog speakers and do not practice English often.

As children grow, their minds begin to adapt. When they become teenagers, their brain removes unnecessary information. So, if a child is taught only to read and never really comprehend, the brain will remove the neurons that are meant for comprehension. Because of that, the child will be able to read. But to understand what the statement means, it will be a different battle altogether.

But how did this happen?

As a nation, we are known to prioritize executive functions. Executive functions are known as functions that are explicitly used in daily life: reading, mathematics, and writing. What people fail to comprehend is that even comprehension is a typical executive function. Its appearance is a little implicit because people lump reading and comprehension together.

But with the Philippines now ranked number 79 out of 79 countries in Reading Comprehension, people now can see why the Philippines is the way it is. The educational curriculum and our priorities as an educated individual are slightly flawed. While schools are slowly transitioning to a more “comprehensive” approach, it doesn’t mean that they will be able to churn out students who have high comprehension immediately. However, parents can still facilitate and help their children’s development for comprehension especially now during the Coronavirus. Take time to read to your children. And if they have questions, explain. It may be tiring in the short run but it will definitely pay off.

Sources:

Sovtsov, A. I., & Terelgina, O. B. (2013) Forcing child’s development: implications for emotional well-being pre-schooler. 

Healy, J. (2011). Your child’s growing mind: Brain development and learning from birth to adolescence. Harmony.

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