Learning to read and write is one of the most complex and essential skills a young child will be faced with. Virtually all subsequent education is dependent upon the acquisition of working vocabulary and reading fluency. It can also be the most challenging and rewarding task for educators to teach this primary foundation of future learning. Dolch sight words are a list of the most common words used in the English language and Essential Skills has developed a sight words program that teaches this list in addition to other common words using engaging online activities designed to strengthen students’ reading skills.

sight words program

Learning to Read

Children begin the process of learning to read by first developing the concept that written marks represent sounds, which can be combined to form meaningful words. This process is called decoding, and very new readers must stop and decode almost every word they see. Ideally decoding will be gradually replaced by sight reading. Sight words are common words that are understood without it being necessary to read every letter. The Dolch list contains 220 of the most common English words, typically articles, prepositions, conjunctions, adjectives, adverbs and verbs (a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down). These words are found in almost all printed material but can be difficult for a child to image or explain. The Sight Words for grade 1 program from Essential Skills combines Dolch words with common nouns, number, and color words to cover more than 50% of most reading material. Because many of these words are abstract and difficult to sound out, the most effective learning method is repetition and practice. Using a well-designed sight words program enhances the time spent on memorization and helps to incorporate other cognitive skills. The careful balance of auditory, visual, and typing activities appeal to all learning styles and make this an ideal tool for primary education.

Help With Struggling Readers

Students cannot make the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” until they have mastered reading fluency. This is largely dependent on an ability to effortlessly absorb common English words. Children with dyslexia or other language based learning disabilities frequently struggle with this and require more practice. Rote learning and memorization are often considered a “necessary evil” but are the most effective way for children to develop into mature sight readers. By using Essential Skills software to enhance your first-grade sight words program, struggling students will get the extra time they need to spend on acquiring this skill, formatted in an engaging manner that will make them want to keep learning.

Reading to Learn

Whether children read and write for information, communication, or enjoyment, the end result will be dependent upon their level of reading fluency. By using a sight words program like the software from Essential Skills in combination with classroom materials that incorporate Dolch words in lessons and worksheets across the curriculum, students will be well on the way to reading fluency.