Sight Words

Sight words are words children are taught to recognize “on sight.”

What are sight words?

Reading sight words is a significant part of phonics learning for kindergarten and first-grade children.

Some sight words don’t follow standard phonetic spelling patterns. These are known as non-phonetic or tricky words. Examples of these include “talk,” “walk,” “come,” “once” and “the.” Non-phonetic sight words are challenging to recognize, so children are taught to identify them at a glance through repetition and word games.

When do children start learning sight words?

Children begin learning sight words in kindergarten and continue through first grade. Although there is no set target and all children learn in different ways, and at varying speeds, a rough goal to aim for would be 20 sight words by the end of kindergarten and 100 by the end of first grade.

Five benefits of learning sight words.

  • Confidence. Recalling sight words has a substantial positive impact on children’s confidence in the classroom. The Dolch List – the most widely-used set of sight words – includes 50-75% of all terms used in children’s books, newspapers, and magazines. Once children know those, they’ll be able to pick up most texts confident in their ability to understand them.
  • Speed. Rapid recognition of sight words means kids don’t have to spend time decoding or breaking down unknown words into bite-sized chunks.
  • Enjoyment. Reading should be fun! Sight word recognition enables children to read books independently and helps them see that reading is something to enjoy rather than endure.
  • Progression. Solid knowledge of sight words allows children to focus on increasing their vocabulary to understand the remaining 25-50% of words not covered by sight word lists. Sight words lay the foundation for further learning.
  • Self-esteem. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with being able to read independently can substantially impact children’s self-esteem and emotional well-being.
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