Sight Words

A sight word is a word that can be effortlessly read when seen. This gives the impression that the reader does not decode it. However, all words, including a small amount of irregular high frequency words need to be explicitly taught (part to whole) and practised.

For example:
If a child is learning the sounds s,a,t,p,i,n, they may also need to learn 'a', 'the', 'she' and 'has', in order to read a grammatically correct sentence.

The goal is for children to recognise these words (sight words) effortlessly, but this should only happen through repeated decoding and careful explanation of their complexity, not taught as whole words.

Should Words Be Taught By Sight?

The simple answer is ‘no’. Children must learn that there is only one strategy required to read unfamiliar words. That strategy is to decode. Telling them to sometimes decode but sometimes try to remember the word as one whole unit can be very confusing.

It is important to understand, however, that when children are learning to read using a systematic, synthetic approach they will come across words that have a far more advanced code than what they have learnt.

It is for this reason that ‘sight words’, high frequency words’, ‘tricky words’, need to be introduced, explained and decoded.

How Do We Teach Words To ‘Become’ Sight Words?

Example 1:

To teach the word ‘do’

1. Tell the child the word.
2. Explain that the ‘o’ in some words can be heard as /oo/.
3. Sound out (decode) the individual phonemes for the child to hear d/o.
4. Expose students to other words that are similar, like the word 'to'.

Sight Words Within Our Readers

Engaging stories with fun characters is what all children should have access to as they begin their learn-to-read journey. Consequently, our series introduces children to some words before they have the required decoding knowledge.

For example, Level 1 Book 10 contains the words ‘the’, ‘and’ and ‘no’. These words need to be introduced, explained and decoded for children prior to reading this book. Repeated exposure using these strategies will assist them in being able to develop automatic recall of the words. Until such time, if a child does not know the words within the text then they should have the word decoded and read for them.

The goal for children is that every word they see is a sight word.