Top 5 ways to teach your kindergartener sight words
It’s extremely magical when a little person in your life is ready to learn how to read!
Not every child is ready at the same time, but once your child starts to show an interest in letters and words it’s a sign that they are getting closer to getting ready to read.
As a first grade teacher and literacy coach for students in Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience the joy of teaching children to read for over 20 years.
One of the most helpful steps when teaching a preschool or kindergarten aged student to read is helping them to create a bank of words that they can recognize instantly. The goal is to be familiar with these common words right away without a lot of effort. They are often called sight words or high frequency words. These are the words that appear most frequently in text. They are often called sight words because a child can learn to recognize them by sight rather than needing all the tools to sound them out. Practicing and memorizing sight words can make reading so much easier and fun!
One of my go to strategies to get little ones excited to read is using sight word flash cards. Skillmatics has great sets of flashcards that make learning fun and interactive.
Helpful tips to teach your child to learn sight words.
- Start by pointing out sight words in books, and on signs and around their environment. When you open a page in a book or go to the grocery store, start finding and talking about words.
- Pick a small list of pre-primer or words with personal relevance. I usually pick I, am, a, the, mom and/or dad. The goal is to give them very easy and common words, so there is an immediate boost in confidence and then let them know they are beginning to read!
- Start by pulling only 5 flashcards from the Skillmatics Sight Word Flashcard deck and then practice them together. First the adult reads the word.Then the adult reads the word and the child repeatsThen read them together. Then they can try by themselves, including lots of praise, support and “think time.” Don’t rush to say it for them.
- Practice everyday for a few minutes. Having the five sight word cards of the week easily accessible makes it fun to do a quick review in the car, at the dinner table, during story time, etc. Stick with those five words for a few days or until you feel your child has learned them. As you introduce five new sight words, continue to practice previously learned words.
Fun ways to teach sight words
One fun trick is to create a sight word treasure hunt. Take the flashcards and stick them around the house. Send your child on a word hunt. For example, ask them to “Go find the word ‘am’ and bring it back to me.” Once they find all the words, line them up and read them together.
Pick out one-two sight word flashcards from the Skillmatics deck and make those the “magic words “during story time. While reading to or with your child, have them do a clap, a thumbs up or touch their ear everytime they hear or find that word in the story.
Pick a sight word of the day from the Skillmastics deck and make that the ‘Sight Word of the Day.’ If the sight word is “can” have your child find it everywhere. Have the flashcard taped in the kitchen and high-five anytime someone reads it or says it out loud for a few days. Find it everywhere out in the world (signs, food labels, books, etc).
If your child is ready, bring in other techniques such as making a sentence together with the sight words ( I am happy today.) and/or writing them down and then reading them together.
Finally, I like to make a word wall for all the words your child can already read. You can celebrate all the new words and add words as they memorize them. It’s fun to watch the word wall grow! Continue to praise the growth along the way.
Every child develops at their own pace and often they learn in different ways. Sight word practice is a great way to give your kiddo a little boost, but no need to push if they are not ready. Take it easy and have fun while they travel on the exciting road to reading.
Lisa Lefrak Newby, M.Ed is an elementary educator and coach with 24 years of experience in the classroom teaching grades TK through 5th. She is the mother of two boys ages 15 and 11. Lisa is the oldest of five daughters and organizer of all family game nights!