What are Sight Words? A Helpful Overview for Parents with Kindergarten Kids
Sight words are words that can be immediately read and recognised without having to sound them out. Taking time to help your child learn these means they can read a lot more, easier and faster. These can be learnt over time but if you want to help your child excel there are ways to focus on sight words early in life to give a young reader a head start.
As adults, most words are sight words for us as when we read them we can recognise them instantly. I am sure as you read this sentence you were able to read it without having to pause to sound out the words. That is what we want to build up for your children too.
We want to teach children to be able to automatically recognise and read words without having to sound them out or think about them. This helps make reading effortless and unconscious as breathing.
Through Research Dolch Selected 220 High-Frequency Words to begin Teaching Children
While at the University of Illinois, Edward William Dolch compiled a list of 220 sight words (excluding nouns) that appear most in children text so that they can achieve reading fluency. These words were selected by identifying the most frequently used words in children’s school books from pre-kindergarten through to 3rd grade.
Some of the words on the list are decodable, meaning they follow the rules of phonics and are spelled the way they sound (came, be). Others are phonetically irregular i.e. don’t follow phonics or spelling rules (of, the).
How can learning these High-Frequency Words help your child?
The 220 Dolch Sight Word List comprise up to 80% of the words found in a typical children’s book, and 50% of reading material for adults (textbooks, newspapers).
Is this true? My friend challenged me on these facts and provided me with 3 books and quotes within the book that he randomly selected paragraphs from for me to check and test.
Let's see how we go:
Dr Seuss – The Cat in The Hat
'look at me!
look at me now!' said the cat.
'with a cup and a cake
on the top of my hat!
i can hold up TWO books!
i can hold up the fish!
and a little toy ship!
and some milk on a dish!
i can hop up and down on the ball!
but that is not all!
that is not all...
RESULT - 81% of words (54/67) are in the 220 Dolch Sight Words List.
Imagine that your child could read over 80% of Dr Sesus The Cat in Hat once they learn these words. How would they feel? I am sure confident and proud.
JK Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death. Then again, maybe some of you have come to Hogwarts in possession of abilities so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention!
RESULT - 58% of words (55/95) are in the 220 Dolch Sight Words List.
Amanda Lohrey – The Labyrinth – Winner of the 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award
Today I am returning for the first time. The sky is a washed-out blue and the narrow road in is flanked on either side by bleached pastureland, the grass faded to straw, the sheep clustering under a Lebanese cedar. The great iron gates of the asylum stand permanently open, for the asylum is decommissioned and popular with visitors in search of antique horror. A minibus loaded with Chinese tourists cruises past and I follow it down the long avenue of silky oaks towards the grand clock tower. How abject it looks now, its sandstone face crumbling at the edges, the big round face with the hands stopped at a quarter to nine.
RESULT - 52% of words (58/112) are in the 220 Dolch Sight Words List.
Can you imagine your child picking up a book that has won Australia's most prestigious literature prize and recognise over 50% of words? How do you think they would feel?
What are the 220 High Frequency Words?
Download your copy of the 220 Dolch Site words here.
Do you have a paragraph in a book you would like the Sight Word analysis done on? Leave it in the comments below and I will get back to you with the % of sight words.