Increase Your Childʼs Reading Proficiency Through Sight Words

You may have heard educators mention the phrase “sight words” or “high frequency words”. Do you know what they are or how they can help your child with reading? If not, youʼre not alone.

Sight words, sometimes referred to as high frequency words, are words that occur frequently in the English language. Sight words can comprise between 50-75% of text, making them important words to learn. They are often exceptions to phonetic analysis and many are service words that do not provide a visual image. For example, can you picture an image for the words “of” or “the”?

Learning sight words can help your child become a better reader. Studies show that children who have a good grasp of sight words can increase their reading fluency (the rate at which they read), and reading comprehension. When your child spends less time sounding words out, he or she will have a better understanding of the material read.

Typically, children are taught a list of sight words at school that coordinate with their grade-level, or language arts program. If your child is school-age, ask for the list that the teacher is using. Otherwise, you can refer to commonly used sight word lists such as Dolch Sight Words or Fryʼs Instant Word List.

You can begin teaching your child sight words before mastery of letter sounds, or alongside the learning of letter sounds. Knowing a few sight words will allow your child to read simple and predictable sight words stories, allowing him or her to practice and build confidence in reading.

Games and activities can promote sight word knowledge in a fun, easy way. Start with 2-3 basic sight words. You donʼt have to teach them in order. Itʼs actually more helpful to choose words that form a simple sentence such as, “I”, “like” and “the” or “I”, “see” and “my”. Help your child build a storehouse of sight words by introducing additional sight words after your child has mastered the previous ones.

15 Fun Ways to Teach Sight Words
1. Read sight word stories.
2. Label common objects in your home or childʼs bedroom such as bed, door, lamp, dresser, etc.
3. Play a sight word bingo game. Variation: Instead of placing markers on the words when called, use a weterase marker to trace the words. This works best on laminated bingo cards.
4. Use Sight Word & Picture Cards to build sight word sentences.
5. Create a picture dictionary that contains familiar items, objects, animals and label the words.
6. Practice spelling sight words with magnets.
7. Lay out an array of familiar sight word cards. Instruct your child to point to the words as you say them aloud.
8. Play a sight word search game after reading a story. Ex. Point to the word “for”. Can you find the word “like” on this page?
9. Car games such as I Spy Sight Words can turn dead-time into a learning-time.
10. Write sight word stories and illustrate them. Ex. I love my mom. I love my dad. I love my cat. I love my grandma. Wouldnʼt Grandma love to receive that in the mail?
11. Create sight word puzzles on tagboard or blank puzzles from the craft store.
12. Play a game of sight word concentration. Print two sets of sight word cards on your computer to create a
matching pair. Laminate or cover with clear Contact paper for durability.
13. Play a game of Sight Word Snowman (a friendlier version than its Hangman predecessor).
14. Develop a sight word fill-in-the-blank game. I like ___ dog. (the, or, to) or ___ can go play. (We, Have)
15. Find or develop easy sight word search games to reinforce learning.

© 2010 Julie Rebboah

Julie Rebboah has been a professional educator since 1998. She has been an Early Reading Intervention instructor, an English language development teacher, and a private tutor. Julie wrote Magic Letters; The Keys to the World of Words and Magic Words; Discovering the Adventure of Reading out of a need to provide materials to support and extend learning in her diverse classroom. Passionate about children’s education, Julie presents workshops to teachers across the country. Julie is a member of the National Kindergarten Association. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon with her husband, Christophe, and their two young children. They all love reading and sharing books together.

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