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The Reading Status of the Learners During A New Normal System of Education

Teachers find time to visit their learners to monitor their reading progress in English and Filipino.

Teachers find time to visit their learners to monitor their reading progress in English and Filipino.

Millions of lives were turned upside down at the beginning of 2020 as a result of a global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Educational institutions around the world have temporarily closed their doors, with closures impacting billions of enrolled learners. When more and more children are forced to stay at home from school, the risk of learners being disengaged or completely deprived of their education is higher than ever.

There is a rapid rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the country that really affects the education of learners. However, the Department of Education (DepEd) stands up and pursues its goal of continuing the education of learners through distance learning modes. In this modern way of learning, learners remain at home while they study with the aid of their learning facilitators. DepEd ensure that the most basic learning skills are the main focus of the learning process. In addition, for learners who are first graders, lessons are based on improving the skills of the learners in reading, numeracy and writing.

Reading is central to the functioning of today's society. It is a critical skill in seeking a decent career. It is necessary because the mind is evolving. Understanding the written word is one manner in which the mind grows in its capacity. An individual who knows how to read can educate themselves in any field of life they are interested in. Reading is cultivating the imagination. Through reading, a person can go anywhere in the world, or even out of it that non-readers cannot experience these joys to the same degree. Reading is cultivating the creative side of people. Reading is necessary because words, spoken and written, are the building blocks of life.

Parents tend to have printed modules as a means of learning for their children. It is made clear during orientation that they have a key role to play in this form of learning delivery modality. They are assigned at home as learning facilitators or teachers to their own children. Having first graders, it is now the duty of parents to help their children learn the basic skills in reading, numeracy and penmanship. This is a daunting job for a parent who lacks a background in education, but teachers ensure that they offer instruction and assistance to their parents. That is why they set up a group chat to entertain their questions about how to teach their learners.

Teachers prepare all the reading materials needed to develop the learners' beginning reading skills. Apart from that, they also have explicit guidance in print format and also in video format, so that parents can follow the steps carefully. As a result, some learners are increasingly learning beginning reading skills. Videos of learners reading on their own are shared in a group chat to track and measure the progress of the learners' reading. Apart from that, several teachers are planning a weekly reading assessment to test learners' reading progress. The results are registered, and serve as the basis for teachers to provide the learners with the next stage of reading activities.

There are some of the learners who have trouble getting to their reading level. These barriers are influenced by different factors such as the availability of reading material, the reading guides and instructions, the quality of the reading material, and the availability of reading facilitators. Bombed by these factors, learners are bound to remain at their current stage of reading. The COVID-19 pandemic is hindering teachers to be with the learners in order to provide the support and assistance they need to boost their early reading results. It is really hard to step in this time of health crisis that really impacts the reading success of the first graders.

The primary concern of first-grade teachers is the initial reading success of their learners. They are concerned about how to help learners develop their early reading skills, as face-to-face instruction is banned by the government in terms of the health and safety of learners. Likewise, they are worried about the implementation of a no read, no pass policy. With these problems in mind, each school plans reading programs to solve these dilemmas in order to enhance learners' early reading results. But that is not enough, though. It really needs the intervention of reading teachers to help these learners develop their early reading skills.