What are sight words?
Sight words are the building blocks of beginning reading. They are words such as it, is, am, and, the, you, I, he, she and here. It’s important to build up a word bank. These are words that your child will be able to recognize on sight, quickly, without actually having to read them. This will speed up the reading process and make things easier for your child. Sight words will be important for beginning writing, too. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand.
Use the books you’re reading to your child to teach sight words…
When you’re starting out with a child that is about 3 to 4 years old, I’d use the books you’re reading with your child as a teaching tool for sight words. Why? This way the word is in context in a story and not isolated, without meaning, on a flash card. It’ll make more sense to your child. You can use flashcards with sight words later.
After reading a short book, go back to the first page. Look for a sight word you’d like to teach. Let’s say the word is up and you know that the word occurs several times in the book you’ve chosen. Read the sentence with the word in it, point to the word and say: This is the word up. Can you find another up on this page? Or the next page?
Use magnetic letters…
The next day, with the same book or another one, point out the word up again. This time, bring out some magnetic letters – u and p. Print the word up on a piece of paper, or on a little whiteboard (make sure it’s magnetic) from the dollar store. Tell your child the word is up just like in the book.
Show your child how to make the word using the magnetic letters directly under the word you printed. Have several sets of the letters u and p handy. Ask your child to make the word at least 3 times. Say up as you run your finger under the word left to right. Ask your child to do the same: to say the word while moving her finger left to right under the word. Then, say: “What word did you make? That’s right, up!”
Here’s a list of kindergarten sight words to choose from.
(adapted from Fountas and Pinnell)
Go slowly and build in lots of repetition.
You might have to point out the same word many different times on many different days. That’s okay. Introduce a new sight word when your child has shown a firm grasp of the initial one. Go back. Review words regularly. And remember, these are sight words your child will need to know by the end of kindergarten…they can’t be learned all at once.