Basic Sight Words and What They Are
It is a huge deal sending your child to school for the first time (and learning about basic sight words). 2019 will see me embark on this very adventure. The first time I have completed the ‘first day of school’ as a parent. It is daunting, overwhelming, emotional and yet I have to be the brave one.
My husband has kindly offered to take the day off work to ensure I don’t hold onto the school fence the entire day waiting for the 3 pm bell to ring. I have already told him that I am sure there will be other mothers at the fence I can chat with for the day.
With my teacher hat on (the professional on and the emotional off), I can tell you that they settle in well, are busy all day and don’t even really notice that you have abandoned them (I mean, left them to be educated). It really is true and before you know it they are working out the playground, asking for tuckshop on Fridays and bringing home sight words.
Hang on, what? What are sight words?
One of those ‘educator’ terms that we bandy around, chat about, discuss and use so frequently in the profession that we often forget that the average parent has no idea what we are talking about when we say ‘practise your sight words every night’. I still remember as a young teacher talking about sight words at a parent-teacher interview only to have two parents looking at me with the blankest of faces. To give them credit, they politely nodded in order to make me think they knew what I was even talking about.
Let me clarify.
There are a number of words (quite a lot in fact) within our vocabulary that we should be able to read by sight. Now before you roll your eyes, of course, we read every word by sight, but what I mean is, as opposed to sounding a word out.
Here is an example.
The word ‘and’ is a sight word. We should know about it. We see it and we don’t even have to think about the word we automatically know it says ‘and’. The word ‘endangered’ on the other hand, is not a sight word for a seven-year-old but one that may need sounding out.
When children are learning to read, it helps them immensely to see many of the most frequently used words in our vocabulary (and, she, he, the, because, always, after, today etc.) and know them immediately. It will depend on the sight word list of the school your child attends, but basically, the list is long and these words will need to be seen and practised and read and written – over and over again until they become automatic.
In most schools, the learning of sight words becomes a project for both home and school. There will be daily activities in a Preparatory to Year Two classroom that will provide opportunities for your child to learn their sight words. You will also most likely see the lists coming home (not at all once – a little at a time) for your child to rehearse and write and read and practice at home for homework. In many ways, sight words will invade your home and for a very good reason.
It is important for us as parents to understand that knowing all their sight words enables a child to read basic texts and then more challenging texts much quicker. This gives children more chance to focus on what they are reading instead of how they are reading. Children who know their sight words are more fluent, expressive readers and comprehend texts at a higher level.
Using sight words to help teach struggling readers is a great example of how you can use sight words. You can also read my post on 12 ways to have fun with sight words. There are plenty of ideas that help everyone get through this important aspect of learning during the early primary years.