What is a sight word and how do sight words help my child's reading?



What are sight words?

Sight words (sometimes called high frequency words) are generally known as the most frequently and commonly used words in the English language. Many of them do not follow common spelling or decoding rules. Examples include the, a, you, to, will, with, she, he, they, for. They are called "sight words" because the goal is for a child to be able to instantly and automatically recognize these words on sight when reading.


Why are sight words important?

Sight word recognition increases a child's reading fluency and confidence. It increases fluency (the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression) because once known, your child can read sight words quickly and accurately with little to no effort and focus on decoding other words. It increases reading confidence for similar reasons: once your child knows 25-50 sight words they can read simple sentences and usually recognize and read at least 30-50% of the words. You can jump in on the harder words. This is a fantastic feeling for new and emerging readers!


What are the sight words my child should learn?

There are a variety of lists of sight words out there. Some of the most common or popular include the Dolch word list (220 words broken up by grade levels) and Fry word list (1000 words broken up into lists of 100s). There is about a 70% overlap of the first 100 words on each list. If you have a pre-kindergartner or upcoming kindergartner you can easily google the first 100 words of either of these lists and start there.


How do I teach my child sight words?

Practice! In a variety of ways. You can have your child trace sight words, pick out sight words on pages in a book, use flash cards, rainbow write sight words, use a sight word in a sentence, play memory games with sight words, or basically anything that will give them different and repeated exposure to the words. We also have a free Sight Word Starter Packet printable if you'd like to start there - just click on the Sight Word Starter Packet image below.