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Sight Words
by Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
What Are Sight Words?
Sight Words are written words that children know just by seeing them. Children do not have to spend time or energy decoding (sounding out) a sight word. Sight words tend to be common words that a child sees over and over, often in children's books. Some examples are "the," "and," "please," and "cat." A list of sight words called Dolch Sight Words contains over 200 high-frequency words: these words do not generally follow typical patterns for decoding (Introduction to Sight Words, 2006, 1 and 2).
Why Are Sight Words Important for Reading?
Sight words are crucial in helping a child develop beginning reading skills. Not only do sight words help build a vocabulary base, but they help build reading fluency skills. Reading fluency is the "child's ability to read text quickly and accurately" (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001, p.22). Fluency skills help improve comprehension because the child is not spending time trying to figure out many words. Instead, he/she is reading for content.
What Are Some Ways I Can Help a Child Learn Sight Words?
At home:
  1. Label common objects around the home with sticky notes.
  2. Write sight words on a chalkboard or on the driveway or sidewalk outside.
  3. Put magnets with sight words on the refrigerator.
  4. Read storybooks with words that repeat over and over
    (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or Goodnight Moon).
  5. Make grocery lists with common items and read these with your child.
At school:
  1. Create a word wall for sight words, adding new words each week.
  2. Have students practice reading sight words at the beginning and/or end of language arts time.
  3. Send home weekly lists of sight words for practice.
  4. Have students write sight words in a journal/log and review them on a regular basis.
  5. Have students look at newspapers, magazines, instruction manuals, comic books, etc. and use a highlighter to highlight as many of their (word wall) sight words as they can find.
Resources
Armbruster, B. B., Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2001). Put reading first: The research building blocks for teaching children to read. Jessup, MD: National Institute for Literacy at ED Pubs.
Introduction to sight words and E.W. Dolch. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from www.dolchlearning.com
 
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