Sight Words – common words that cannot easily be sounded out by beginning readers so need to be recognised on sight
High Frequency Words – words that occur frequently in reading and writing, they make up more than half of the words that the child will encounter in their reading and writing
The basic sight words make up about half the words that the beginning reader will be exposed to in their reading and writing so being able to recognise them quickly and write them easily is a big step to becoming a confident reader. A child should be able to read the majority of words in a text before they are asked to attempt to read it, so having a bank of words they can recognise allows them to concentrate on meaning.
There are lots of different lists of sight words – Dolch, Fry, and Magic 100 are most commonly used in schools. There are about 100 basic words but the lists can go on to up to 350 words.
An internet search will provide lots of lists or see the links at the end of this article for lists to match our Parrotfish Sight Words App.
Sometimes these lists will be ordered in years that the child will be learning them and sometimes in order of frequency in the written language. Although many of the words on the lists may differ due to the year that they were developed, the geographical location, empirical data and samples used, it doesn’t really matter what list is used. What is important is that the child is learning to use memory skills and developing strategies to memorise these words. These strategies will later be applied to lots of different learning situations – not just reading.
Parents can assist this learning by practising the words with them using games and getting them to read the words from flash cards at increasing speed. See my article on “Ideas for Learning Sight Words”.
Our app-Parrotfish sight words has 6 different games that require different reading strategies. This app has been proven to work, is great for practising the words and gives immediate feedback.
See our website for downloads of word lists and more ideas for developing reading skills: