How to teach your child to read from home using sight words

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When your child is learning to read using the phonics method, make sure they have access to good phonics readers to practise their skills.

But… what can we do about the words that can’t be sounded out? Those unknown sight words.

About 30% of words in the English language are impossible to decode using phonics. Think of words like ‘said’, ‘of’ and ‘was’. If we were to write these words phonetically they would look like this ‘sed’, ‘ov’ and ‘woz’. Such words leave the learner with only one option and that is to learn these words by sight. This blog post is all about how to teach your child to read and spell from home using sight words.

Watch the video here or read more below

I’m Liz Dunoon, and when my children struggled to learn to read at school, I found ways to help them. As a qualified teacher who specialises in learning difficulties and literacy, I’ve since taught 100’s of kids to read and spell and catch up at school.

Learning sight words can be very difficult, because some children have trouble remembering how words look. This means they have a limited short-term, visual memory for words. The only way they can learn to read and spell these words is to practise, practise, practise. I remember a child once telling me that he had to see a word 50 to 100 times to be able to remember how it looked and how to spell it.

Here are my top tips for helping children to remember how to read and spell sight words:

  • Get a list of the most common sight words for your child’s age group. You can find a free one on my website, www.dyslexiadaily.com.
  • Break the list down into groups of 5 to 10 words, from the easiest to the most difficult.
  • Now comes the fun part. Your child needs to be exposed to these words in as many ways as possible. I call this multi-sensory learning and the most effective way to do it is by utilising your child’s strengths.

Let me give you 10 ideas.

  • Let your child to spell the words, letter by letter, whilst bouncing on a trampoline.
  • Get your child to mould the words out of plasticine.
  • Give your child coloured chalk and get them to write them on the pavement.
  • Give them a squirt bottle filled with water and get them to write on the ground or fence.
  • Get your child to make the words with Lego.
  • They can make up song using the letters of the word and sing it to you.
  • They can bake the letters out of pastry or cookie dough, ice them and then eat them.
  • They can go across the monkey bars rung by rung, letter by letter.
  • They can write them in shaving cream or sand.
  • If you have an active child, why not try punching out the letters of the words using a boxing bag, a beanbag, or a pillow.

It’s all about giving your child a sensory cue to remember how
to spell these tricky words.

  1. Now to check their sight memory. Write the 5-10 words onto flashcards. Flashcards are small pieces of cardboard. Put the 5-10 flashcards into an envelope with your child’s name on it. Each day show these words to your child. If they can identify them successfully by sight, (within three seconds), put a tick on the back of the flashcard. Once they have five ticks consider this word learnt and replace it with a new word.

If you want more information on how to teach your child to read and spell sight words and access posters and many more educational resources… Join me on my free webinar by clicking the link below.

Click here to register for the FREE webinar

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Give me some ideas for some great multi-sensory learning activities to get your child practicing their sight words by leaving a comment below right now.

Wishing you and your child every success.

Liz Dunoon

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