Definition of sight words

What are sight words? “Sight Words” is a term that parents of early elementary students have probably heard before, but not many people outside of the educational community know what these important words actually are. A simple definition of sight words would be common words that a reader should recognize “on sight.” These important words are also called “high-frequency words” or “instant words.”

Sight words are a group of common words with a high frequency of use that readers must know by sight, instantly and automatically to become an efficient and fluent reader. Some examples of these important words are a, is, the, of, and, that, in, you, me and for. The two most popular sight word lists are the Dolch word list and the Fry word list.

Many visually recognizable words are “service words” (pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and verbs), which cannot be learned through the use of pictures and often cannot be pronounced. Furthermore, phonic analysis and decoding rules generally do not apply to the learning of sight words. To learn these important words, a child will want you to memorize them. There are many effective ways to teach these important words. Many teachers teach these important words to their students through online word games, word lists, and word activities. Learning sight words will help children become more fluent and efficient readers.

Studies show that sight words make up 50 to 75 percent of all words used in school books, library books, newspapers, and magazines. And the 25 most common sight words make up about a third of our written material. Without a doubt, these important words will play an important role in your child’s early childhood education and affect your child’s reading development and efficiency.

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