Common Sight Words for Reading and Spelling

Did you know that you can improve you child's reading a lot by helping him or her to recognise common irregular words automatically?

English is a wonderful language but it is full of very important but irregularly spelt little words such as "though", "where" and "know". These words don't follow fixed spelling rules and cannot be sounded out. They therefore act as red lights to children's reading, interrupting their flow and helping them to forget the meaning of what they have read.

One of the first thing I do, then, when I help children to improve reading is to put lots of these words on index cards ("flaschards") in big letters and go over them each lesson until they start to stick in their memory.

When waving flashcards in my students' faces gets a bit tedious, I vary things by turning it into a game. I lay out lots of cards and get them to choose a word I say; I use the cards to play "snap" or give them the meaning of the word and ask them to pick it out.

So where do you find the lists of these irregular words? Most class teachers have a list of words they want their year group children to have mastered by the end of the school year. Also, a reading expert called Edward Dolch put together a list of such words in the 1940s after noticing that slower readers often stuck on the same irregular words. This site has a list of words according to school year:

Finally, you can also include words that you yourself notice your child has difficulty with from the reading you do together.

Index cards can be found at the Migros at a very reasonable price!