Using Sight Words to Help Improve Reading Skills

Using Sight Words to Help Improve Reading Skills

Recognizing words by sight raises a child's overall reading comprehension / Photo by Getty Images


Children begin to naturally become better readers as they learn to master decoding skills. Part of this process is learning to identify whole words just by the sight of it instead of decoding each word. It is easier and more efficient to read a word by sight compared to decoding letter-by-letter and by each sound the letters make—making the process go faster.

Very Well Family says beginning to recognize words by sight raises a child's overall reading comprehension due to the fact that they create a mental storehouse of words and their meanings. this storehouse, in turn, helps them to comprehend other words in the context of a sentence. Children are usually taught sight words as early as in first grade. Aside from enhancing their reading comprehension, learning sight words can also help children improve their spelling skills.


The Dolch Word List

Edward William Dolch is named as the father of sight words. In the 1930s, he came up with an enumeration of words that often appear in children's literature. The list was later on added in Dolch's book, "Problems in Reading" (1948), made to enhance literacy teaching.

Dolch's word list is being used until now to teach sight words and enhance children's reading comprehension. The words include prepositions, adjectives, verbs, and other parts of speech. These are the words that frequently appear in virtually every reading material, regardless of their context.

However, Dolch omitted nouns from the list since such words are used to talk about certain topics, unlike the aforementioned parts of speech, which are common words in reading materials. Overall, the list is composed of 220 commonly used words—which makes up about half of English print and learning them can greatly help in becoming a skillful reader.


Strategies in Teaching Sight Word Skills

Since children are able to receptively learn information from their environments, even without the ability to express them through words or actions, teaching them to sight word skills at an early can out them at an advantage.

Teaching sight words can begin by reading to them a few minutes a day. Picture books are the best pick for infants since they will be able to recognize words with the photos paired with them. Books that contain short sentences and colorful illustrations are best used for toddlers. Reading the same book to them over and over will help in developing their recognition of concepts. It can also support in creating an awareness of language and sounds.

Another method is enhancing the child's visual and language recognition skills. This can be done by pointing out objects in photographs and saying the name of that object. This can help the child develop their vocabulary, verbal reasoning skills, visual processing, image recognition, and memory.

Putting labels on household items can also help in mastering sight word skills. Parents can ask the child to name the object when they use it. If they are having trouble with naming the object, parents can just show the label as a hint.


Books with colorful illustrations and short sentences are best used to teach toddlers / Photo by Getty Images


Helping Children With Learning Disabilities

Very Well Family points out that not all children learn the same way. This is specifically true for children who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia—which causes problems with reading, writing, and spelling. Fortunately, there are interventions that parents can do to help their child learn to improve their sight word skills.

They can begin by starting with a just a few sight words to learn and focus on them for a week. Five to ten words should be enough as a learning starter for children with learning difficulties. Matching games can also help them recognize words by matching them with the photo that correctly illustrates the word.

Parents may opt to create multisensory sight word cards that have words written in a textured material. This can help children understand the concept of texture as they feel material the word is written on and read those words at the same time. Children can also help in making these texture cards since it can be a learning experience for them.

When they have a good comprehension of a lot of words—exceeding the initial ten-word limit per week—parents should consider playing a word bingo game that ca reinforce word recognition skills. They may also opt to write poems or stories using sight words.

Aside from recognizing sight words quickly, children should also learn the definition of those words. Learning their meaning can help them understand the context of the narrative that they are reading. Using flashcards that have the definition in the back can help them with this activity.

Understanding the value of recognizing sight words highlights the importance of working to make these words a natural part of the child's vocabulary. Since childhood is the time for fun, it is best to work these strategies in a game that children can enjoy. Not only did they have fun, but they will also learn without the pressure of failing.