All About Sight Words

What are Sight Words?

It is also called high-frequency words, bingo words, or even popcorn words. While reading sentences, these words emerge out repeatedly and often they aren’t phonetically justified. Hence these words need to be memorised by spelling them and also by remembering “how they look”.

The idea of remembering a word by its visual pattern is something that is crucial for fluent reading, even with us as adults. Once a new word has been registered in our mind, either phonetically or not, the written word becomes a pattern for us to recognise everywhere else after that. The simplest example of this can be recognising our own name: sorting it out from a list of other names, pointing it out in a spread-out of labeled notebooks, or maybe identifying the right lockers. We can make out a brand name from a distant fly-over and gauge the destination of the gushing metro, instantly in the very first glance. As grownups, we no longer read any old word phonetically. By human nature, visual learning has been a gift, and reading has been its most fruitful outcome.

What are the best ways to learn Sight words?

As young readers, fluency in reading can be accomplished by striking a balance between the learning of words in both phonetic ways and by memorising sight words.

Along with additional vocabulary, It can be created accordingly. There are some readymade lists available as Dolch or FRY sight words. The goal is to familiarise a child with these words in various mediums and evaluate frequently to register the correct spellings of them.

One such common method of introducing new words is “look-cover-write-check”, which is literally, looking at the word to record it visually, cover to write the word by oneself, and then check it to confirm. There can be customised ways to introduce a child to sight words, depending on the specific learning style of the child.

Another way is to dictate contextual sentences to the child, including the targeted sight words in them. And whenever a mistake is observed, an immediate correction is reinforced, so that the mind can only register the correct spelling of the word. For young readers, books by “Dr. Seuss” are very popular to teach sight words through its repetitive yet fascinating style.

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Why necessary?

 Sometimes, there is a very little scope of teaching words through phonetic rules, and it’s only due to the diagnosed condition of the child. In these cases, sight words are the only way out to proceed with reading. Each and every word introduced to the child is done as a new pattern to the child, which she associates with its respective pronunciation.

Often children with good visual memory, also in the case of children with autism, do very well with this technique. The transition of words to sentence formation is also very interesting, as the child uses words like the jigsaw pieces to fit into the sentence. And there are teaching aids to help this method of sentence formation in children. At times, this idea is a blessing for the children who are even non-verbal.

Observing normal development is often the key to develop strategies for creative teaching. It’s miraculous to see how a strange idea works for a particular child, and also benefits some others with similar conditions. Usage of sight words is also one of those odd ideas that have become so popular in the last decade in our country, as well.

What are some easy activities for Sight Word Learning?

Though teaching should be customised to the age, level and interest of the child, here are some easy ideas to get started with sight words with your children.

  1. It Treasure Hunt in a room
  2. Find matching sight words on a Wall
  3. Spot the sight words in a magazine/ book
  4. Sight Words on Post its and swat with a Fly beater
  5. Ice cream sticks Sight Word Game

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