Sight words play an important role in helping children learn to read. These words are often short and irregularly spelled, which means that knowing how to recognize them by sight can help a child to increase their reading fluency. Since children must recognize these words through memory, using repetition and positive feedback are the best methods for helping them learn. As you introduce the concept of sight words to your child, use these strategies to help them increase their confidence and enjoyment of reading.
Make or Purchase Flash Cards
There are several different sight word lists available that parents and teachers use to teach children to read. If your child is in school, then you can ask their teacher which one they use so that you can maintain consistency. If your child is not in a formal education environment, then feel free to select the one you prefer. Then, make flash cards or purchase a set that you can use in your lessons.
Introduce a Few Words at a Time
When you are working with young children, it is important to start slowly. Starting with a long list of words may leave them feeling overwhelmed. Instead, choose three to five words that you know your child will see frequently in their environment. Then, introduce them by having your child look at the word on the flash card as you say the word. Then, have them repeat what you have said. Make sure to repeat these words each day, and add new ones as your child masters the ones you have already introduced.
Involve Their Senses
Children learn best through multisensory experiences that trigger their memory. Provide opportunities for children to play with the words through creative activities. For example, you can have your child use playdough to form the words on a printed mat. Sky writing is another activity that encourages them to use their whole body as the write the word with their finger in the air. You can also create tactile sight word cards by using glue and sand to create raised, rough letters that your child can trace with their fingers.
Young children may tire quickly of looking at flash cards so make sure to add some fun sight word games to your lessons. For example, you can turn pairs of flash cards into a matching game to play with your child. Alternatively, you can scatter several sight word cards on the floor and have your child toss a beanbag on one. Then, encourage them to say the word that the beanbag lands on. This same game can be played outdoors by using chalk to write sight words on the sidewalk. By turning sight word lessons into games, your child will look forward to learning and may start asking when they can play again.
Read Predictive Books
Children’s books often use repetition to help children know what will come next in a sentence. Many of these books use simple words that are also among those you will find on your sight word lists. Visit the local library or fill your child’s shelves with books that help to teach this concept. Then, make sure to emphasize the sight words as you read, and encourage them to help you complete the sentences.
Mastering sight words will help your child succeed in school and become an avid reader. As you introduce sight words to your child, remember to make it a positive experience by using multiple strategies that will keep it fun while allowing you to tailor each lesson to your child’s progress. By focusing on learning these high frequency words, your child will build a vocabulary that will help them enjoy a lifetime love of reading.