Since the use of sight words is essential for fluency in both written and spoken language, all teachers should have a good grasp on what “sight words” are, and why they are so important.
Sight words are the most commonly used words in the English language and are found in virtually every piece of text. Sight words could be thought of as the mortar that holds the bigger pieces of meaning in our sentences together. Many of these words do not comply with common phonemic rules, making them difficult for a learning or struggling readers to sound out. Most sight words are prepositions, adjectives, and verbs.
These words work to make our language flow, but many do not have an obvious meaning that could be explained or illustrated visually. For example, try to explain or draw a picture of the word “the”. There are over 1,200 sight words between the Dolch and Fry word lists, and the memorization of such a long list is daunting (and boring). Essential Skills sight words programs include over 1,000 interactive learning activities to build and reinforce sight word vocabulary in a fun and engaging way.
Here are some tips to help your class master sight words and become fluent readers.
- Find them in text. When reading a story, point out the sight words and emphasize them. Repeating sight words until they are automatic will enhance a child’s confidence as it strengthens their reading fluency. There are countless storybooks written using basic sight words for grade 1 to help reinforce these high-frequency words.
- Find them in the environment. As you teach this vocabulary, make and post signs of the words and refer to them frequently. Also point them out in other environments, or have the kids play a game to see who can find the most.
- Find them in their own writing. Very young learners will often avoid using sight words when writing. If children use a voice to text program, they are likely to use more fluent and complex sentences. Free online applications such as Dictation can be used to easily transcribe speech to text.
Find the hard ones. As your class begins to make progress, be aware of difficulties that the whole class is having. This is an indication of a word, or group of words that may need to be retaught, or at least revisited. If one student is struggling in this area, they may need special intervention. Essential Skills programs teach sight words for grade 1 in a fun and engaging way to support students that may be at risk of falling behind.
- Find a great keyboard-based learning tool.Some students may still be finding it difficult to manipulate a pencil, but will find keyboarding an easier, more enjoyable way to write. Keyboarding works to strengthen muscle memory, making it easier to use and remember common words without having to stop and decode. The Sight Words programs from Essential Skills, include many keyboarding activities to help early learners practice their sight words using a variety of formats.