In part 3 of our series on how to help your child with reading, we address a sight word vocabulary. Sight words should be aimed at kids that are starting to read already, so ages 4+.
First and foremost: sight words are words your child recognizes in 3 seconds or less. There should be no sounding out, no thinking too hard about the word, just an immediate recall. A sight word vocabulary is important because it will help your child read more quickly, and also many of the sight words are irregular and thus cannot be decoded in a typical manner.
So where am I on the phonics/whole language debate? This is the debate of whether we should teach children how to read using phonics- a foundation of letters and sounds, or whole language- memorizing what is seen. The pendulum in education has swung in both directions in the last 20 years. I am firmly in the camp of a balanced approach to literacy– that you need the foundational skills of phonics in one hand (what I talk about in part 1 of this series- phonological awareness), and a sight word vocabulary in the other hand.
So where can you find sight words? Most schools will pick a place to get them from. Some derive lists from a reading program. But many use one of two lists:
I’ve linked them for you above. Both are great lists to work through with your kiddos. The best way to do sight words: REPETITION. This is where I’m ok with a bit of drill (still not drill & kill please). Flash cards are a good way to work on this. Work in groups of 5-10. Review mastered words often. Practice, practice, practice.
Sight words may not be the most FUN part of teaching reading, but they are nevertheless and important key. So get to work!
Check out all the whole “Read, read, read” series, linked below:
The Ability to Read the Text
Read, Read, Read- Part 3: Sight Word Vocabulary
The Ability to Understand the Text
Read, Read, Read- Part 5: Fluency
Other Ways to Boost Reading
Read, Read, Read- Part 6: Read Novels
Read, Read, Read- Part 7: Write
Read, Read, Read- Part 8: Use Technology