The challenges of online learning due to the pandemic are many but educators and students alike have been learning as they go along. When online classes started last year, one junior high teacher-friend lamented how it was a daily struggle for him but then he eventually got the hang of it.
For Jaycee Pascual, the director of Readability Center whose programs improve the literacy skills of children and adolescents, adapting is key to survive this extraordinary time.
Pascual is also one of a dozen “reading remediation” teachers of the center founded close to two decades ago in November 2003 for students who struggle with reading and writing.
“Our reading remediation program is anchored on the student’s needs based on a reading and language assessment. Teaching strategies informed by relevant research and instruction are not limited to one particular approach,” Pascual told Lifestyle in an email interview. Five years ago, the center introduced Literacy Skills Development (LSD) programs to provide continuous development of targeted literacy skills of students from prekindergarten to Grade 10. The specific literacy skills are developed for the different LSD programs where students are grouped according to grade levels.
Beyond academic tutorial
“These programs distinguish us from tutorial centers that offer academic tutorial services.”Before pandemic restrictions were implemented, sessions were held at Readability Centers in Project 2, The Raya School in Lagro, New Manila, Raya Beginnings in Greenmeadows, all in Quezon City; Marikina Heights in Marikina City; San Fernando City, Pampanga; and Naga City, Camarines Sur. Since June 2020, all their programs have been offered online.
The move to virtual classes allowed them to reach potential clients they wouldn’t have been able to tap in the past. Pascual said that they now teach the children of US-based Filipinos how to read.
He first reached out to a friend in New York whose 7-year-old daughter he thought might benefit from Basa 360, an LSD program. Since the daughter hardly spoke any Filipino, he suggested the program Read 360, the center’s English language counterpart.
While the stories were in English, the topics and subjects were all Filipino. Pascual and his team use stories from Buri Books that are categorized under different reading levels.
“Filipino-American children aged 7-9 get to enjoy listening and reading Filipino stories; it makes them appreciate Filipino culture and tradition at the same time. My friend was able to convince three other mothers to let their child join the group.”
They now have four students from New York who read Filipino stories with their teacher in Manila, and have since begun instructing students located in the US West Coast.
In eight sessions, the children’s progress is monitored and evaluated through exercises and fun activities. Still, Pascual admits that students sometimes feel frustrated with the limits brought about by virtual classes.
“At some point, they do get frustrated with this learning modality. As teachers, we deal with this by not being frustrated with them. These are all new to us so we need to be more patient and understanding because most of our teaching tricks don’t work this time.”
Keeping it simple
Pascual explained how some “tricks” or teaching strategies are more effective when done face to face rather than remotely. “Eye contact might not work when the teacher gives the listen-to-me look at the camera. I have to remind the center’s teachers to keep everything simple as we learn how to work around online teaching.”
Aside from Reading Remediation, Read 360 and Basa 360, the other online programs offered at Readability include: First Read (Pre Kinder and Kinder), Word Work (Grades 1 and 2), Writing Progress (Grades 3 and 4, Grades 5 and 6).
The goal of School Fit (Grades 1 to 6) is to equip children with the necessary reading skills to read materials from school. In the process, the child’s reading stamina is developed. Instruction focuses on teaching effective reading comprehension skills and strategies in reading stories and informational texts. The topics are aligned with the K-12 curriculum in English, Social Studies, Science and Math.
Pascual said that they have been relying mainly on referrals from satisfied customers—doctors, teachers and parents—to get the word out on the center. They also regularly update their Facebook page.
“We were recently invited to partner with Edamama (edamama.ph), a social commerce platform for mothers. We also conduct Kapihan, a venue for parents and teachers, in our respective communities, for them to know about topics on literacy learning through mini-lectures and workshops,” he said. INQ