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What Are Sight Words?

After your children learn the 5 pre-reading skills, they are ready to continue to learn and grow as a reader. One thing that your kids will need to learn to help them become successful readers is Sight Words.



What Are Sight Words And High Frequency Words?

When you were learning to read, you probably remember learning how to sound out words based on the letters and spelling patterns that appear within the word. For example, you would break down the word “cat” into its three sounds c-a-t. Then, you would put them all back together to read the word as a whole. However, there are many words in the English language like come, says, and who that do not fit normal sound or spelling patterns. Children should memorize these words so they can recognize by sight. These words are sight words.



There are also words that are frequently used in writing so it is easier for children to remember them such as and, with, and that. Although some fit standard phonetic patterns, some do not. By memorizing these words, kids can build fluency and don’t have to sound them out every time they are reading. These words are high frequency words.


Should I Teach Phonics or Sight Words?

There has always been some question about whether you should teach sight words or if you should focus only on phonics. The answer is both! It’s important for your child to understand the sounds that letters make and the spelling patterns that help make the sounds we hear in English.


However, there are words that don’t follow the “rules” and others that are frequently used in writing that your child should memorize. So, it is important to teach phonics and sight words.



When a child comes to a word that is hard to decode or sound out, teaching it as a sight word can help alleviate those feelings of frustration in early readers. As they memorize those words, they become more likely to quickly recognize and read them as a whole word rather than trying to break them apart into individual sounds.


By teaching your child to use both their ability to decode or break down words by their letter sounds and to recognize those high frequency words, you are giving them a better chance at becoming a lifelong, fluent reader. More importantly, the more successful a child feels when learning to read, the more likely they are to enjoy it and continue to read for fun later on in life.


What Sight Word Should I Teach?

When learning sight words, there are two lists: Dolch sight words and Fry sight words. Dolch words are the original sight words. Edward William Dolch put together a list of frequently used words in English in 1936. He believed in a whole-language approach to reading instruction. Whole language relies heavily on the memorization of sight words rather than learning the sounds that letters make and sounding out words. Dolch’s list of words was reprinted in 1948 and is still used in many schools today.




Fry words came out in 1957, collected by Dr. Edward Fry. The Fry list was an expansion of the original Dolch word list. The Fry word list contains 1,000 words, whereas the Dolch list has only 220.


How To Begin Teaching Sight Words

When it comes to teaching sight words, start with just a few words. Then, find fun and hands-on ways to practice those words with your child. Click on the pencil below to get a set of free sight word flashcards. You can use these flashcards in your sight word activities and games. Get creative and ask for your children’s input on how they would like to practice them too!


Learning sight words alongside phonics is an important part in becoming a fluent and lifelong reader.  


Pin It For Later!

Do you want to save this information for later? Pin this to your sight word board on Pinterest and it’ll be here for when you’re ready!



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Download The Freebie:

Click on the pencil below to download and print the free sight word cards!