What Are Sight Words and Why Are They Important?
Sight words are very important for your child to master because, believe it or not, “sight words account for up to 75% of the words used in beginning children’s printed material”, according to Study to Identify High-Frequency Words in Printed Materials, by D.J. Kear & M.A. Gladhart. There are different sight words for every grade level. Each set of words builds upon the other, meaning that once your child learns the sight words in Kindergarten, he will be expected to still recognize those words as he learns new words in first grade, and so forth.
Many of the over 200 “sight words” do not follow the basic phonics principles, thus they cannot be “sounded out.” Beginning readers need an effective strategy for decoding unknown words, and being familiar with sight words is an effective method. Other benefits of sight words include:
- Sight words promote confidence. Because the first 100 sight words represent over 50% of English text, a child who has mastered the list of sight words can already recognize at least half of a sentence. If your child begins to read a book and can already recognize the words, chances are he won’t feel discouraged and put the book down, rather he’ll have more confidence to read it all the way through. And, choose another!
- Sight words help promote reading comprehension. When your child opens her book for the first time, instead of trying to decipher what ALL of the words mean, she can shift her attention to focus on those words she is not familiar with. She will already know at least half of the words, so focusing on the other half helps strengthen her understanding of the text.
- Sight words provide clues to the context of the text. If your child is familiar with the sight words, she may be able to decode the meaning of the paragraph or sentence by reading the sight words. And, if a picture accompanies the text, your child may be able to determine what the story is about and come away with a few new words under her belt.