Sight Words Can Really Speed Up Reading Fluency
Once I read a forum post by a homeschool mom who had tutored reading for 16 years. In this thread, she proudly stated that anyone who knew how to teach reading knows that sight words and phonics don’t go together. Well, I may not be a reading tutor, but I have taught my own kids how to read, and I beg her pardon and yours if you agree with this mom, but sight words have played an important part in increasing the confidence, competence, and literacy of my own homeschool kids. If sight words are so controversial, why do I propose that you teach them?
Sight Words are Easy to Learn
The very best way to teach your beginning reader sight words is to read aloud! Remember the more you expose your homeschool child to these most-frequently used words, the more familiar these words will become. In fact, if Dr. Fry’s theory that the top 100 sight words appear in over half of written texts, then reading aloud would be the easiest way to teach sight words because you wouldn’t even have to think about teaching them. Just read a variety of books on a daily basis, and you are sure to cover the top words.
To prove this point, I tested three homeschool friends (one 8 year old girl and two 10 year old boys) with all three sight word lists included in the appendix of my book on classical homeschooling, Trivium Mastery.
I gave sight words list 1 (the 100 most frequently used words) to the 8 year old. I asked her to read the list from top to bottom as quickly as she could. Without hesitation, she read all 100 words perfectly and never stopped to sound out a single word. I repeated the process with the 10 year old boys, and they, too, instantly recognized all of the words on lists 2 and 3 (second and third most-frequently used 100 words) and accurately pronounced them without error. None of these three kids have ever purposefully studied sight words. Their moms just read to them on a regular basis.
However, if you are the type of homeschool parent who wants a little more assurance, you can systematically teach all 300 sight words to your preschool or early elementary child through simple games like concentration, hangman, word search, bingo, or go fish. Just select 15-20 words at a time, and work on them until they are mastered.
Another approach is to start by showing the child the sight word, saying it, defining it, then using the word in a sentence. If you want you can have the child copy the sight word, or you could play a dictation game and have your homeschool child write the sight words. My kids always liked playing games to beat the clock, so use your kitchen timer to make the sight word recognition games a little more fun. Remember sight words are not a complete reading system, but they are a great way to boost reading motivation and confidence!
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There are lots of other tools to help you as a homeschool parent teach your child the fundamental skill of reading like this free list of the 1000 most commonly used words. Use this homeschool printable as a teaching tool to practice spelling, pronunciation, definitions, and sentence compositions.
New to Homeschooling?
Are you new to homeschooling? We’ve all been there…it can feel overwhelming at first when you don’t know where to start, so I’ve asked 40 veteran homeschooling moms for their best advice. Download a copy for your Homeschool Planning Notebook (pdf).