Angela is a homeschooling mom with a Special Education background. She loves teaching, especially those who sometimes struggle.
What is a Sight Word?
Sight words are the most common words you will find when reading. Many of these words cannot be sounded out through the regular use of phonics, which makes them hard to learn. That is why it is helpful to have a system in place to teach these words to your children.
When teaching children to read, you will often find that children either do better with phonics reading or sight word reading, depending on how their mind works. This system helps those in both categories. Keep in mind that while some children learn to read very quickly, others are much slower at learning. That does not reflect the child's intelligence or educational aptitude.
Most children, regardless of whether they struggle to read early on, begin to excel at reading by the end of the second grade. If they are still struggling in the second grade, they may need to either see an eye doctor to make sure their eyes are tracking well or a specialist who can eliminate such disorders as dyslexia.
I can never stress this enough, but your ultimate goal in teaching a child is not for them to learn what you are teaching, but to enjoy learning on their own. A child who enjoys learning will become a lifelong learner. A child who dreads school will not pick up a book after high school. At this age, learning that education can be fun is more important than hitting milestones.
What do You Need?
- a stack of blank note-cards - they can be plain or lined
- a marker, so the word sticks out
- a pen to write on the back of the card
- a box or rubber band to keep the words together
How to Set Up for A Lesson
First, you want to write each sight word, one per note card. You want to make sure the cards are in a logical order. Below I have a suggested order of learning sight words, although you may want to choose your order based on words used in books your child may be reading.
Do not get too rigid about grade level. The lists below are basic guidelines. Some kids learn to read very quickly and may know all of the words by the end of kindergarten. Others may need to go through the list much more slowly. Keep this in mind when choosing what words are used and when. The speed and accuracy with which a child learns to read have very little to do with intelligence. Do not push too hard; take it easy, so the child enjoys learning.
Once all of the cards are made up, then you can begin teaching your child.
Challenging Your Child
- Begin by introducing five words. Go through this list once where you read the words to your child. Then a second time where you read the words, and they repeat. And a final time where they try them on their own and you correct where needed. If they get zero right, no big deal, they will spend all year looking at these words, they will eventually get them.
- Once introduced, place them aside into a testing pile. Do not test the child on words added that day.
- This step will not begin until the day after the first set begins. Once the testing pile has started, show each word to your child, and have them read the word to you. If they get it right, hand the card to them, if they get it wrong, then place it to the side. Only go through the words once! Once you have finished going through the list, give the child a pen to put a checkmark or dot on the back of the cards that they got right. So they can see how many times they got that card right!
- Once you go through the list and mark the back of the cards, they got right, put the pen away, you will not need it. Then you can ask your child if they would like to go through the cards they missed again for fun. If they say no, it is no big deal. They will go through these cards again tomorrow. If they say yes, go through the cards, and hand them the notecards they get right to them (let them know they will not be marking these cards) and place the ones they get wrong to the back. Go through the deck until they have gotten all the cards! Then celebrate!
- The next day, go through steps three and four again! As far as introducing words, you can choose to add one word per day or five words per week. Whichever seems less overwhelming for your child. Remember not to quiz your child on a word added that day.
- As you continue through the deck, more and more cards will get more and more dots or checkmarks on them. Once a notecard has five dots or five checkmarks, then the child has learned that card! They can recycle them! Give them the job of throwing it into the bin, so they can feel a victory in accomplishing that reading goal!
- If they struggle with a word, no big deal, if they complain their stack is getting too big, then add fewer words per week. If they are going through the words very quickly, double the number of words you quiz your child. Remember, your child will eventually learn to read. The goal is not to see how quickly they can get through the stack but to enjoy themselves, and finally, they will become readers.
Don't Forget to Praise Your Child, but Be Careful How You Do
Praise your child! But be wary of how you praise them. Empty praises, such as "you are so smart," have proven to have the opposite effect of causing a child to feel smart, as Carol Dweck has noted in her book Mindset.
Use praises like, "Good job trying to sound out that word!" "I can tell you are trying hard," or "I am proud of the effort you are putting into it." The reason for this type of praise is because a child has control, whether they try hard or whether they sound out a word. Praising a child over something they do not have direct control over, such as intelligence, causes a child to think they are not smart enough when they struggle. One thing a child often will think is, if they are smart when they get a word right, what are they when they don't get one right? It's essential to be clear that you are proud of your child's efforts, regardless of natural ability.
Praising is essential to the growth of a child, but it's necessary to give the right kind of praise.
120 Words to Learn in Kindergarten
120 Words to Learn in First Grade
125 Words to Learn in Second Grade
120 Words to Learn in Third Grade
Keep Your Eye on the Goal
Remember to keep your eyes on the goal. Yes, you want your children to read. Yes, you want them to be reading at grade level, but that goal is not for them right now. You want your children to enjoy learning and enjoy reading. If they can enjoy themselves, then they will become lifelong learners and lifelong readers. They will not think of education as a chore, but rather as an activity. Children will eventually catch up. We were not all designed the same. Some of us have a quicker capacity to learn sports, while others have a faster ability to learn art or music, while others have a quicker capacity to learn reading. All of these are valuable, and we all have the capability of learning each. Some of us take longer to get to the goal than others. Praise your child's efforts and celebrate their victories. Don't compare them to others, even if it seems like they are doing better than their peers.
© 2018 Angela Michelle Schultz