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During their early years of education, children seem to learn so rapidly and easily. Part of their sheer aptitude for new concepts is that their little brains are like sponges. They have a kind of neuroplasticity that comes with their age.

Sight words for kids are easier and more accessible than you may think. There are quite a few strategies for teaching sight words for beginners. So, let’s get started.

What are sight words?

Sight words are a way to teach children the fundamentals of the English language. These are words like come, does, or who, which don’t follow the standard rules of spelling and pronunciation. So, instead, students learn them, on sight, so they can read without needing to decode or sound out the words.

iSmartStudent’s English solution tackles sight words in the primary stage of English learning. At this stage, there’s a need for children to build ‘phonemic awareness,’ which is speech related to the written word.

Sight words are tricky for several reasons. Because they circumvent the normal rules of the language, teaching sight words for kids presents some challenges such as:

  • They appear most frequently in our reading and writing, so children need to master them if they’re going to progress their reading and writing skills.
  • Sight words don’t have specific images that make describing them easy to do. So children must learn them on sight.
  • The only real way to learn a sight word is to memorise it.
  • It’s absolutely crucial to teach sight words for kids successfully because they’re mostly adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and more. These words give meaning and direction to the texts that kids will read.

Sight words are the glue that holds language together, so it’s important for children to master them. Once they do, they can read faster and more efficiently because they won’t need to stop each time and get frustrated trying to read these words.

How do sight words help children learn?

Sight words help children read more effectively and with greater confidence. Once they know these words, they can focus their attention on other words that actually require sounding out.

The teaching methods that help children learn sight words can also help children who have reading difficulties such as dyslexia. In other words, sight words for beginners level out the learning experience for children with different learning styles.

Types of sight words:

  • Frequently used words — These include words like it, can, and will.
  • Non-phonetic words — These are words like buy and talk. They have unnatural or non-repeating sounds. Once children recognise these words, they can also recognise similar words such as guy and walk.

Educators and tutors can rely on a few resources for sight words. These are lists that cover words that frequently appear in texts:

  • Dolch Sight Words — these are the most commonly used words, including 80% of those that appear in children’s books and 50% of words that appear in adults’ books.
  • Fry Sight Words — As an expansion of the original Dolch Sight Words, the Fry Sight Words list captures the 1,000 most common words. It helps children with 90% of the words found usually in books, newspapers, and websites.

How to teach your child sight words:

Introduce new words – Flashcards are the best way to teach sight words to kids. Start by introducing and working on no more than three unfamiliar words at a time. Use any of the five teaching strategies (which we’ll cover in a minute).

Review old words – Each following lesson should also spend time by reiterating and reviewing lessons from the previous lesson.

Use teaching techniques – Teaching techniques introduce an easy way to learn sight words for kids. These include:

  • See and say — When a child sees the word on the flashcard, they speak the word while underlining it with their finger.
  • Spell reading — A child who is learning sight words can say the word, spell out the letters, then read the word again.
  • Arm tapping — While saying the word, the child spells out the letters while tapping them on their arm. Then they read the word again.
  • Air writing — Like arm tapping, air writing calls for a child to say the word, then write the letters in the air in front of the flashcard.
  • Table writing — Once they see a flashcard, a child writes the letters on the table, and then once more while not looking at the flashcard.

Correct mistakes

While they’re learning, it’s inevitable for children to make mistakes. When your child does make a mistake, you can:

  • Have the child say the correct word and rapidly move your finger underneath the word. This helps to draw their attention and help them make the connection between the word and the sound.
  • Use the word in a sentence to help the child understand the meaning of the word.
  • Have your child repeat the word at least six times.