In classrooms across America, the development of sight word recognition continues to be a top priority when instructing emerging and beginning readers.
The purpose of reading is to construct meaning from text. This “meaning” is dependent on the rapid, automatic, and effortless recognition of words. According to Patricia Cunningham in Phonics They Use, “In order to read and write fluently with comprehension and meaning, children must be able to automatically read and spell the most frequent words. As the store of words they can automatically read and spell increases, so will their speed and comprehension.” (Cunningham, 2000). Sight word recognition improves reading fluency and automaticity, allowing the student to focus their efforts on the more mentally demanding task of reading comprehension.
Students become efficient and confident readers and their attention can now center on decoding words that carry meaning to the text. This allows students to focus their efforts on “reading to learn” rather than “learning to read.” As a result, their ability to verbally recall and organize information from text drastically improves. These students not only begin to develop reading comprehension skills, but also become more accurate, detailed, and organized when verbally recalling the information.
We must remember that reading is one of the most critical skills students learn.One of the most important goals in teaching young students to read is making sure
they are completely proficient with Sight Words.
Sight Words (sometimes called the Dolch Words) are some of the most frequently
used words in the English language. Even though they number only about 200, Sight
Words comprise approximately 50 to 70 percent of any given general, non-
technical text. Therefore, teaching Sight Words as early as possible is considered
a crucial part of elementary education.
There are two additional reasons why it is important to give Sight Words an extra
priority. Firstly, phonetic analysis can't be applied to many of the Sight Words.
Secondly, quite a few of the Sight Words cannot be taught through pictures (e.g.
"if", "soon", "but", etc.).
Even though it may take a considerable effort for children to learn the entire
Sight Word List, it is well worth it. Having the ability to recognize these words can
dramatically increase confidence and improve reading proficiency of the beginning
Because complete fluency with Sight Words is the foundation of literacy, a variety
of techniques are used to teach them to children. Repetition and practice are very
important in making Sight Words recognition automatic. Students should practice
sight words nightly until they recognize all 200 words on the Sight Word list.
Below you will find an online resource to use to help ensure that your child builds
this important foundation for literacy.