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Your Child Still Can't Read? When To Actually Worry, Says Expert
  • Every parent wants to raise a reader and it is one of the developmental milestones they look forward to the most. But they also cannot help but compare their children with others — “How come my neighbor’s daughter is already reading at age 4, while my kid is still struggling to decipher words?”


    Each child develops at their own pace and they achieve milestones differently. For some kids, the ability to read comes early, while others need a little more help and guidance. Parents also play an important role — experts encourage moms and dads to read to their baby starting at an early age to instill a love for books.

    But at what age should you be concerned that your child still can’t read? On the fourth episode of SmartParenting.com.ph’s How Po? titled “Become Your Child’s Best Teacher! How To Do Preschool At Home,” Vanessa Bicomong, director of the Learning Library, an enrichment and tutorial center that specializes in reading and Filipino language skills, shares that “Unless your child is 7 [years old], then you should not worry yet.”

    She adds, “Reading is not a race. Hindi ito pabilisan.”

    Vanessa, who has three kids, shares that while her two youngest children were already reading at age 4, her eldest child only started reading at age 6. But at 8 years old, he had already finished all seven books of the Harry Potter series, which is considered advanced reading for his age.


    The goal of all reading is comprehension, emphasizes Vanessa. It starts with listening comprehension, which is the ability to understand the meaning of words that you hear and then be able to relate to them in some ways. It’s where children learn to take in information, respond to instructions, and then eventually share their ideas, thoughts and opinions.

    “You can develop that through storytelling, asking questions after you read the story, [and] pointing out important points in the story to help your child understand,” she says.

    Even if a child is not able to decode words — identify the letter-sound relationships and pronounce written words — parents should not worry. “If that is late, then that’s no problem,” Vanessa says, so long as your child has listening comprehension.

    To nurture reading comprehension or the ability to understand what you are reading, Vanessa encourages buying books that match your child’s understanding. “Hanap tayo ng mga libro na kayang-kaya ng bata ‘yung mga salita,” she says.

    What is the gold standard of reading comprehension? It’s when your child can already predict a story’s ending. “Among all my children, ‘yung panganay ko ang nakakagawa nu,” she shares. “If your child is used to reading the plot, malalaman niya eventually, ah, dun aabot yan. So just aim for comprehension, and not necessarily decoding. Hindi po race ito.”


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