Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How can I help my child learn sight words?

Ms. Dorothy -
______ is starting to bring home sight words. What do I do? We picked three from the group of 10 (I, Like, The) and worked them into story-time. We made sentences and looked for them in the story. How are we doing?
-Dad of a Kindergartener

I think it's wonderful that you trusted yourself enough to just do it and get a second opinion afterward! Keep up the great work! You are right on the mark!

We have 25 sight words that Kinders are supposed to read by the end of the year. The first 10 are for the first semester.

Choosing three, and choosing ones that are visually very different (number of letters, beginning sounds, word shapes) are great ways to find a basis for comparison!

Looking for the words in books is exactly what I have the kids do in the classroom. When you are reading and you come to the word, stop and have him read it for you. That's great stuff! I have a safari hat and a fly swatter in my classroom, and I have the kids go on a word safari and search for the sight words. (It's fun for them to try to sneak up on the sentence strips to swat a word.)

Some parents and teachers make flash cards and practice drilling the words too. That won't guarantee transfer to actual books; and I think that it is recognizing the words in context that matters most for learning to read, not just learning discrete words.

Your instincts are perfect. You are a natural, and he is going to do wonderfully with your support at home!


  1. Can you recommend any good books on this subject?

  2. James - I don't know of any books off hand that are specifically about learning sight words. There are some great passages in books like "Explaining Reading" by Gerald G. Duffy (pg.30) and "Reading Essentials" by Regie Routman (pg. 50 and elsewhere) that talk about how important it is to learn skills like this in the context of literacy.