Help for Struggling Readers: Part 2 (Sight Words)

Children who dislike reading often feel that way because they struggle to read the words that make up a story or book.  Part of the problem may be a lack of understanding how to sound out words. (You can read more about how to help your child sound out words in this post.)  Another area that is difficult for struggling readers is sight words.

What are Sight Words?

Sight words are words that don’t follow normal phonics rules.  We know the basic rules for sounding out words, but not all words follow those rules.  (For example, “ou” make an “ow” sound like in the word “out” or “ouch”.  But in the word “you”, the “ou” make an “oo” sound instead.)  Because sight words don’t follow the phonics rules, children cannot sound out those words.  Instead, they must be memorized.  This obviously can be very confusing for struggling readers.

Teaching Sight Words

The best way to teach sight words to your children is simply to review them over and over.  You want those words to stick in your child’s brain forever.  Focus on two or three words a week.  Write those words on small cards and carry them around with you.  Throughout the day, pull out those cards and have your child read the words.  At the end of the week, add the cards from that week to all the other sight word cards you have learned in the past weeks.  Several times a week, you will want to go over all the words your child has learned so far.  Just grab your whole stack of sight word cards and have your child read them to you.  Remember to review the new words for the week several times a day and review all the words several times a week.  You can find a list of the most common sight words here.

The thought of having your child memorize over 300 words may seem a bit overwhelming at first!  But remember, all those sight words don’t have to be learned in a week or even a month.  Take your time and just keep reviewing the ones you have already covered.  Read through these tips on how to make learning sight words fun for your child.  Before long, you will notice your child reading those tricky words with no hesitation or problems!  How do you help your child learn sight words?

Photo by:  Chrissy Johnson1

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