Learning to read is a crucial part of growing up and you can make it fun by using sight words. Sight words can be tricky for some children to get their head around, so we’ve put together some entertaining ways to make it easier and keep them interested. Let’s get started!
What are sight words?
Sight words are the most frequent words in our writing and reading. More often than not, these words don’t have an image associated with them and they cannot be sounded out. Because of this, they need to be memorised. Once these are learnt and understood, it makes reading much easier. For children around kindergarten age, it’s best to start with a small number of words and focus on them rather than bombarding them with a list that they will likely forget.
Teach children sight words from a young age
A great way to give your child a head start with their reading and comprehension of words is by teaching them from a young age. You can start by reading to them daily. While they may not be able to read for themselves when they are young, seeing these words over a period will help them recognise them for themselves as they get older. You can encourage the learning of sight words by pointing to the words as you are saying them. Once the child is familiar with the book, they will know what is next and what that word looks like. Keep the books age-appropriate and playful.
Get your child to join in on the reading
While you are reading, get your child to help. Even if they aren’t familiar with the book, choose a common sight word such as I, we, the. Say it each time you see it and get them to repeat it after you. Repetition can help them remember the word.
Make it fun
If your method of teaching is disinteresting, don’t be surprised if your child’s mind starts going elsewhere while in the process. Young children have short attention spans, so to keep them interested, you need to keep it light and more importantly, fun. One way you can do this is by using sight word cards to play a game of memory. Once your child has found a match, ask them what the word is. If they don’t know, say it out loud to them. After a few games of this, they’ll start to catch on to the words they are matching.
Use different materials to keep them engaged
Using paper and books doesn’t have to be the only way your children can learn their sight words. Play-based learning is a highly effective way to teach children, the best part about it is they don’t even realise they are learning while having fun. Some sensory-based sight word activities can include a tray of coloured sand and a couple of sight word cards. Simply place the sight word card in front of your child and ask them to trace the word in the sand using their finger. Once they have done this, ask them what the word is. Another is using letter stones to spell out the sight word that is placed in front of them. It’s an interactive way to get them to learn their sight words.
Make up a sensory sight word bag
Another sensory sight word activity is a sight word bag. You can do this by writing some sight words on a piece of paper. Cut them up and place them in a zip lock bag. You then fill the bag with rice or dishwashing detergent (you’ll need to laminate the words if you use dishwashing liquid). Give your child the bag and ask them to find the words. Once they have uncovered a word, ask them what it is. You can step it up a notch and use individual letters instead of words. Ask your child to find several letters to make up a word. You can use this idea if you think the sight words alone will be too easy.
Practice, practice, practice
The more your child practices their sight words, the better they will get at remembering them, reading them, and understanding them. Using different ways to teach will keep them interested and eager to learn. If it becomes monotonous, they will lose enthusiasm quite quickly and it becomes a chore. Get the whole family involved and change it up regularly.
Keep your sight word lessons short and sweet
Expecting a young to sit for an extended period and give their undivided full attention is a big ask. It will just see them uninvolved, and you get frustrated. Keep your sight word lessons short and sweet. Give your child choices, if they have had a choice, they’ll be more inclined to participate. Reward your child when they have successfully finished their sight words. It can be something as simple as a sticker chart or a stamp chart, this will encourage them to get through their words.
Here at Little Saints, we are all about providing our preschoolers with fun and interactive ways of learning so they can put their best foot forward when they make the big transition to primary school. We are located on the Gold Coast and care for children from 6 weeks to school age. Book a tour today!