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If you are not a teacher (or even if you are!), you have probably asked yourself at some point, “What are Sight Words, and why are they so important?!” As a former Kindergarten teacher who taught students to read and write every day, I am here to tell you: Sight Words are SO important! Here’s why:
Sight Words are the words that kids (and you!) will see most often when reading and writing. They are called Sight Words because our brains need to be able to recognize them just by looking at the word (with our sense of sight) to read fluently. That means, students should not be stopping to sound out each letter they see in a word. When kids are just starting to read, they usually only have some letter-sound knowledge. When we apply simple, single letter sounds to certain words, they don’t make sense. For example, the word ‘the.’ If a child said each letter sound in this word, they would hear /t/ /h/ /e/. Does that sound like the word ‘the’ to you?! No! Absolutely not. This is why ‘the’ is a perfect example of a sight word that students need to know by SIGHT. Now, eventually students will learn the digraph ‘th’ and all of the spelling patterns that make up our language, but if we are wanting them to read before they fully understand the English language (which let’s be honest, who does?!), then we need to focus on memorizing words by sight. I like to think of memorizing Sight Words just like students need to memorize letter names. If they can identify the letter M as an M, they can identify the word ‘the’ as ‘the’!
So, how do kids learn words by sight? One simple word: EXPOSURE. The more your child sees these words, the more likely they are to remember them! Here are a few ways to expose your child to Sight Words:
- Sight Word Games or Flash Cards
- Finding them everywhere! Think signs, magazines, instruction manuals, etc. If you are reading something- encourage them to “read” it with you and find words they know.
- Finding them in story books- whether they are the ones reading or if you are reading to them, start with a few simple words that you can find together. We always look for these words: the, see, I, like, my. (My son is 3.5 years old)
- Writing them, whether its tracing or writing- as long as they are seeing them! Check out this workbook just for writing Sight Words!
In this workbook page, students will first read the word at the top of the page. Obviously, if they have never seen the word before, parents are here to help! ALWAYS tell them the word. The more they hear it over and over, the more likely they are to one day remember it!
After reading it, they will move on to tracing the word. I like to have students say the letters out loud in a “sing-song” voice as they write them. When kids are first learning Sight Words, make sure not to focus on how to SPELL the word. They just need to quickly be able to IDENTIFY it. Spelling will come later!
After tracing and writing the word, you can help them read it in a sentence! All sentences correlate with the image at the top of the page. That way, if your child is starting to read on their own, the image can help determine unknown words.
At the bottom of each page is an extension activity. This is a fun, hands-on way to take a break from writing. Using the words in another sentence is a way to check for understanding of the word!
If this workbook looks like something you and your child would enjoy working on, you can grab it HERE.