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Teaching Your Child Sight Words
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - August 14th, 2023
The education journey for your child is an exciting adventure filled with the exploration of letters, sounds and eventually, words. One crucial step in this educational journey is the introduction of sight words. Sight words are common words that children are encouraged to recognize instantly, without the need for phonics. Recognizing these words ‘by sight’ can significantly boost reading fluency and comprehension for early readers and that’s why we put together tops and tricks for teaching your child sight words.
The Importance of Sight Words
Research suggests that sight words make up about 50-75% of the words we encounter in beginner reading materials (Fry, E.B., Kress, J.E., & Fountoukidis, D.L., 2000). By recognizing these words instantaneously, children can focus more on understanding the text and less on sounding out each word. This fluency leads to better reading comprehension, the ultimate goal of reading.
Effective Tips and Tricks to Teach Sight Words
- Start Small and Consistent: Begin with a small set of words and gradually add more. Consistency is key in reinforcing memory, so practice these words daily.
- Use Flashcards: Flashcards are a timeless teaching tool. Write the sight word on one side of the card. On the other side, use a sentence that includes the sight word, and a picture illustrating the sentence. This multisensory approach engages visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities.
- Interactive Games: Turn learning into playtime. Games like word bingo, memory match or sight word fishing can make learning sight words fun and engaging.
- Incorporate Technology: There are many educational apps and online games that can help teach sight words. Many of these games are interactive and can make learning more enjoyable. With younger children you should only do 15 minutes per day maximum for any technology.
- Contextual Learning: Encourage your child to spot sight words in their daily environment. It could be in their favorite book, on a cereal box, or a street sign. This method helps children understand that words are part of their world, not just something they see at school.
- Word Walls: Dedicate a space in your home for a word wall. Add the sight words your child is learning. This visual reminder will help reinforce their learning.
- Songs and Chants: Children love music, and it’s a fantastic learning tool. Create simple songs or chants using sight words. The rhythm and repetition will help make the words stick.
- Writing Practice: Encourage your child to write sight words. This could be with a pencil and paper, in the sand or having your child use finger painting to express himself/herself. The physical act of writing helps cement the memory of the word.
- Personalize the Process: Connect sight words with your child’s interests. If they love animals, start with words like “cat” or “dog”. If they have high enery, use words like “run” or “jump”. The personal connection will make the learning more meaningful.
Remember, each child is unique and learns at their own pace. Be patient, provide lots of praise and celebrate each achievement. Making the process enjoyable will foster a love of reading and learning in your child.
Sight words are a key building block in early reading development. By helping your child learn these words, you’re equipping them with the tools they need for reading success. The strategies above can provide a fun, engaging, and effective way to teach sight words at home. As your child’s first teacher, your role is invaluable in setting the foundation for their literacy journey.