Did your child come home from school with a list of sight words to practice? Do you understand how important these little words really are to their reading, writing, and spelling development? Continue reading to learn more about what sight words are and how you can help your child master them.
What are Sight Words?
Sight words are the most frequently used words and hence, are words children should be able to recognize by sight. Instead of taking time to sound these words out, students are quickly able to read and comprehend them once they learn them as sight words. Some examples of sight words include "and", "you", "like", and "that".
Other types of sight words include those that are tricky for children to decode because they do not follow the typical phonics principles. Children cannot sound these words out using the rules of language they have learned. Some irregular sight words include "as", "there", and "of".
Why are Sight Words Important?
When students know their sight words, their spelling, reading, and writing become much easier. Because these words are used so frequently, students tend to be slower and struggle more with these essential skills if they don’t know their sight words.
Concerning irregular sight words, students are able to read much more fluently when they have learned these words as well. Because these words are hard, if not impossible, for children to sound out, they will likely struggle and get frustrated with reading, writing, and spelling if they don’t know irregular sight words.
What if My Child Doesn’t Practice Sight Words?
Clearly, understanding and internalizing sight words is very beneficial for literacy fluency. If your child does not practice and master their sight words, you will likely see them start to fall behind in spelling, reading, and writing.
How Can I Tell if My Child is Struggling?
If you notice your child seems to be struggling with their spelling, reading, and writing, sight words might be the culprit. Usually, you can sit down with them while they practice their sight words a few times and you will quickly be able to tell if they are having trouble identifying the words. Your child’s teacher will also be able to tell you if he/she is struggling with sight words. Another way to tell is to keep the following benchmarks in mind, so you know where your child should be with this skill, depending on their age.
By kindergarten, students should be able to begin to learn and master sight words. Sight word lists vary by school and teacher, but the number of sight words your child has mastered should increase every year. By the time your child is finishing 3rd grade, he/she should know at least 300 sight words.
How Can I Help My Child?
Children may not be motivated to practice their sight words because rote memorization can be very boring. Try to encourage your child to practice his/her sight words by offering extrinsic motivation, such as snacks while practicing, a treat for every x minutes of practice, or a promise of a fun activity when practice is over.
If you are struggling to help your child and want to feel confident they are getting the right practice, look no further than Math Genie. Math Genie has a great reading program that is staffed by teachers who are trained to help your child master sight words.