Alabama has been trying to raise the literacy scores for younger readers in the state through legislation and support from the Alabama State Department of Education. The Alabama Reflector asked experts in the state what parents and guardians should be looking for and doing for their own children’s literacy.

Sonya Yates, the associate policy director of early literacy for Excel in Ed, an education policy nonprofit launched by Jeb Bush and based in Florida, said that making sure parents understand bad habits might be the easiest way to explain.

In school, reading should be based around grade levels and specific skills. But when reading to a child at home, they should be reading something they want to read.

“If you’re just reading to your child, then you find something that’s in the interest of them because that’s building the other part of the science of reading,” Yates said. “We have the word recognition skills, and then the language comprehension.”

Yates said that parents or guardians reading to children is what helps build up the vocabulary skills. Parents should be reading books that “stretch” their child, she said, so that their oral vocabulary is at a higher grade level than their visual one.

Yates said that spelling helps with the link between auditory and visual learning for literacy.

“Because that linkage between the visual and the auditory or the sound and the letters that we have to make sure that we’ve created those linkages for our children,” she said.

Read the full article about childhood literacy by Jemma Stephenson at The 74.