Do you know that teaching your kids high frequency words is really important? This is because it gives them a head start in the long run and helps them to learn how to read faster. Check out our high frequency words list here.
In order to help your kids learn and retain new vocabulary, it’s essential to focus on the words they’re most likely to encounter. It’s also important to teach them in a way that makes learning fun and engaging. The following list of high-frequency words is a great place to start when you’re teaching your kids new vocabulary.
What Are High Frequency Words
High frequency words, or sight words, appear most commonly in texts and reading material. In fact, according to publishing company Scholastic, sight words account for up to 75% of the words used in children’s printed material. As parents, our goal should ideally be for our child to recognise every word on the High frequency words list at first sight to do reading and writing a more efficient process.
The concept of the high-frequency words list was first founded by Professor and Author Edward William Dolch, who compiled words into five levels for children to learn by sight. These compromise of terms such as ‘the’, ‘there’, ‘was’, ‘so’, ‘if’ – are seemingly easy, difficult to illustrate and can sometimes defy standard phonetic rules.
Why Is It Important to Learn Sight Words
Children are exposed to high frequency words during Kindergarten. Photo: iStock
Lists of high frequency words differ by grade level and age, but across the board, many of the words on these lists do not follow basic phonetic principles and cannot be “sounded out” or decoded using conventional strategies.
Memorising them until they are known by sight is beneficial for many reasons including:
- functioning as an effective strategy for acting as a bridge and helping to decode unknown words.
- promoting confidence, as when a child is familiar with high frequency words, he would be able to recognise most of a sentence in age-appropriate reading material. This acts as a booster in your child’s confidence and enables him to keep going and not put a book down in frustration.
- promotes comprehension skills in reading, as instead of trying to figure out what all of the words in a book means, your child can focus on unknown words as he is already familiar with the sight words in his arsenal. This allows kids to free up cognitive resources so they can focus on the tougher words that they do not know, and that require stronger decoding skills.
- High frequency words also provide clues to the context of the text, especially if accompanied by pictures, your child can decode what the story is about and may even learn new words.
When Should You Introduce Your Child to the High Frequency Words List
You should ideally plan to have your child recognise 10 to 15 sight words before phonics instruction of whole words begin. But do this after your child knows all the letter names and sounds because children who have not learned letters will inevitably struggle in identifying them by sight.
100 High Frequency Words to Teach Your Child
These words will also be introduced and practised in school, and supplementing their learning at home will aid your child to pick them up faster. A chart of the first 100 high frequency words can be found here (go ahead and print this out):
Kindergarten High-Frequency Words
The following words are high-frequency words for kindergarteners. These words are used frequently in kindergarten and should be learned by the end of the first year.
- I – Me – My
- You – You’re – Your
- He/She – Him/Her – His/Her
- We – Us – Our
- They – Them – Theirs
- What? (question)
- Where? (question)
- Who? (question)
How to Teach High-Frequency Words
Now that you have your high-frequency words list, how do you teach your child these common sight words?
You could incorporate these words into your child’s learning in several ways. Always start small, with around three to five words, and mix them up with familiar words as you go.
Here are a few ways in which you can teach your children sight words:
Print and paste them around the house on surfaces and prominent places that your child is most likely to have regular contact with: such as the refrigerator, your child’s closet or wardrobe doors, a wall of the house facing an area where your child regularly plays, the door to your child’s bedroom. This will be a visual reminder when your child is learning the words.
Print out each high-frequency word on separate flashcards, but make sure you don’t add any illustrations or pictures accompanying the words, as your child may simply look at the drawings instead of the words. You may laminate these words separately or punch holes in them and rig them onto a keychain for easy access.
After a few sessions of helping your children memorise the terms, these flashcards can be used for quickfire practice, where you “flash” the card to them, and they have a few seconds to tell you the word.
Printing out flashcards is a valuable way to teach your child sight words. Photo: iStock
You can also print multiples of the same word and use them for memory games like Pairs or Snap, where you put the cards face down and ask your child to pick matching cards or pick cards and shout out the correct word as they match them.
Another fun game to teach high-frequency word list would be to lay out all the cards face-up and use an insect swatter or spatula to “slap and point” to the words as you call them out, as fast as they can. You can also try to get your child to make a silly sentence with a string of as many high-frequency words as possible.
Try coaxing your child to spell words they have learnt with magnetic letters on a fridge or the bomb shelter door.
Bring your child’s learning outdoors
And encourage him to look for and pick out words he has learnt on billboards, signs, or advertisements when you travel somewhere, at the supermarket shopping for groceries, or even on a walk in your neighbourhood.
Play a hangman game or ‘fill in the missing letters on a whiteboard.
Make a twister mat with letters
Get your child to hop onto the letter and spell them out as you call each word out. You can also write the letters in chalk at the void deck area of your house or the stretch in front of your door, and get your child to hop onto the correct letters to spell the word correctly. Do remember to clean up after yourselves afterwards!
Using spelling in kinetic sand, flour, lentils, salt, or even shaving cream can be a tactile way of teaching your child the words. Tracing the letters into these substances may also be very therapeutic and satisfying for your child and may interest him the most out of all the suggestions on this list!
In teaching high frequency words list, you can also get your child to spell the words out using pasta. It’s a nice form of sensory play that you can explore.
Spelling out words with pasta is a fun way to get your child to learn sight words. Photo: Stock
After your child has learned quite a bit of the word on the list, you can use scrabble tiles to make up words they know from the letters they pull. You can also use scrabble letter tiles to simply spell words instead of opting to draw letters from the pouch.
When teaching kids high frequency words list, try getting artistic kids who love a bit of craftwork to decorate or draw a word they learn. You can also use common household refuse to make a recycled work of art using materials such as crumpled-up newspaper and toilet and tissue rolls to fashion out words.
Regardless of how you teach your child these sight words, the most important tip would be to be patient and persevere in introducing your child to the words at his or her own pace. It would also do your child good for them to see you reading, to encourage them to want to pick the habit up themselves.
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