What are the First Sight Words A Child Learns?  - Student Resources

What are the First Sight Words A Child Learns? 

A preschool student reviews yellow flash cards on a table with her mother

The first sight words a child learns are the most commonly used words in written texts. 

Thankfully, much of the process of learning sight words, often termed high-frequency words, has already been simplified and educationally mapped over the last century by literacy professionals, including Kumon. 

Importance of Sight Words 

The significance of teaching these words lies in their prevalence and the foundational role they play in a child’s early reading journey. 

Kumon’s 100-word list accounts for many of the most frequently used words in the English language. Memorizing these words helps to promote fluency in reading. 

But there’s a funny thing about sight words – they don’t typically follow the established phonetic pronunciation, as many words do. This means they are difficult for children to sound out using phonetic decoding. And using other clues, like images, don’t work, either. Can you draw an image of “by,” “they” or “her?” In this sense, memorization is the only way to learn them fluently. 

The First Sight Words 

Kumon’s list of sight words was carefully compiled due to their high frequency in early reading materials and their role in providing a strong foundation for a child’s future literacy skills. 

Some of the words on Kumon’s list include a, on, I, to, it, says, with, his, her, time, off, friend, please, pretty, when, your, but, away, its, went, that, they, our, old, ready, more, each and ate.

These sight words are the first set of words that establish the building blocks of reading fluency. As your child becomes proficient in recognizing these words, their reading can become smoother, and they will be able to read at a faster pace. This fluency contributes to a deeper understanding of the text, as the focus shifts from decoding individual words to comprehending overall meaning. 

Helpful Strategies and Kids’ Activities 

Helping your child master sight words can provide a confidence boost. Success in recognizing these frequently occurring words encourages a positive attitude toward reading and sets the stage for a lifelong love of learning. 

A great thing about learning sight words is that it’s easy for parents to become involved. The words are best learned through repetition, a little bit at a time, and can be done through a variety of fun activities. Working hard to memorize and recognize these words at an early age will allow your child’s cognitive resources to be available later to tackle tougher words that require stronger phonetic decoding skills.

How can you help kids practice?

  • Kumon provides audio files for students to first hear how the words are pronounced. While they may just listen at first, they can begin to say them along with the recording and begin pairing them with printed word sheets. That’s just the start.
  • Flash cards and memory games are also a simple way to continue practicing. By dividing up the words into different colors of flash cards, you can begin to whittle away at the 100-sight-word list in chunks. Continue drilling the recognition of the words until they master them. 
  • Who doesn’t love a good game of Bingo? Using the same principles of the classic game, you can develop a fun way to learn sight words. Write the words on the Bingo card and call out the words until someone wins the game. 

These are just a few of the ways you can help your child learn their sight words and better prepare them to be lifelong readers.