Learning High-Frequency Sight Words

Sight words are known on sight, usually within a split second. The reader does not have to think about how to decode these words.

Sight words that beginning readers must learn, however, are those which do not follow common phonics rules, yet appear often, even in primary text.

Even though the English language is more than 95% regular in the way that words are pronounced, some important sight words, such as “said” and “they,” are examples.

Many introductory readers of English text encounter this inconsistency, and young children, especially, can become befuddled by it.

That is why these words must be taught separately, and to mastery, in small numbers. Our Sight Word Kit A and Sight Word Kit B address this problem with the most common, irregular words in primary English text.

Once these words are learned, reading fluency usually improves dramatically. Many teachers require too many sight words to be memorized, overloading the memory banks of beginning and struggling readers. It is so much better to focus on learning high-frequency, irregular sight words instead. All other words can be learned using regular phonics and/or linguistic methods.

An Effective STRATEGY for Sight Words and for Spelling:

  1. Look at the word and its parts. Pronounce it.
    (Point out the regularities and irregularities if possible.)
  2. Copy the word while looking at it.
  3. Cover the word.
  4. Write the word without looking at it.
  5. Check to see if you spelled it correctly.
  6. Check if necessary. Pronounce it again.



  1. Maximum of 5 words/session
  2. Repeat in same order until over-learned
  3. Add 5 more words each session, but continue to practice all previous words
  4. Cut back on the number of words if learner doesn’t master 5/session
  5. Vary the order of practicing the words only after identification seems firm


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