Friday, August 22, 2008

The post where we both learn something

Did you even know there was such a thing as "sight words"?

I didn't.

Despite the fact that my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years, I had never even heard the term.

For my fellow cave dwellers, sight words - of, and, he and you, for example - are words that don't follow basic decoding rules and must be memorized by new readers. Kids who learn early to memorize these words - also called instant, star and high frequency words - find learning to read much less frustrating.

I only learned of this whole concept when the Parent Bloggers Network offered me a chance to review a DVD designed to help teach kids how to memorize sight words. Rob and I have been reading to Graham on a regular basis since he was a baby but I've never really considered the logistics involved in him learning to read for himself, so I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to give it a shot.

Click on over to Don Mills Diva Recipes and Reviews to read about our experience with Meet The Sight Words 1...

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23 comments:

Vodka Mom said...

Your mother is a saint. I've been teaching kindergarten for 7 years (fifth grade for 10 and second for 3) and I LOVE IT. It is so wonderful. Sight words? KIds learn them when they see them often, and use them in their writing. His teacher will use them on the board often, and when he developmentally ready, he'll learn them. no worries.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

Never knew! Thanks!

We've been working on reading lately. Of course when we're working on it he pretends he doesn't understand but I've overheard him sounding out words the other day. So it is working.

Melissa said...

We learned sight words in Kindergarten. I think Hope knows something like 200 of them now. The earlier you start Graham the better!

angie said...

Yep......know all about sight words. I learned to read with the Whole word approach which is the same concept, but on every word. So the phonetics decoding was not taught. Now the kids learn to decode and memorize certain core words which is fabulous.

caramama said...

Bachelors in English, Master in Journalism and Mass Comm, no clue about sight words. Fascinating... I'll have to look into that.

Kathy said...

We've been really lucky - my son is about to go into grade 1 and is worried about it. So at the start of the summer, his teacher told me abou the Dolch lists. I googled it and printed them out and we've been doing the lists all summer. I've noticed a huge difference in his reading ability. But your son I think has a bit of time before worrying about this...

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Since I half homeschool, I know all about sight words :)

Jen said...

The reading-teaching pendulum swings back and forth between sight words and phonics every so many years. For awhile they will say its all phonics, kids can't learn without phonics. Then they will say sight word memorization is the most important. (Oh, and while the phonics methods recognize a few words as "sight words" defined the way you did, most "sight word" methods are more about whole word recognition method of learning to read all or most words than about simply about learning just a few non-phonetic words.)

Right now, its leaning (strongly) toward sight words again. The flaw most methods have with teaching sight words is the limited repetition with words before introducing new ones. DH works with Ed Gickling (google him, he's amazing with teaching and assessing reading) who will take the words kids know and write an entire story around them adding in only a new word or two. Once that book is mastered, he will make a new book. BOB Books are a similar concept, but according to the research I've seen, even they go way too fast, introducing too many new words at once.

Reading is such a complex process, between decoding words, processing, fluency, comprehension--the more I read about what goes into learning to read, the more I'm amazed that anyone can do it. But I do think that learning lots of sight words well has really helped both my kids.

imbeingheldhostage said...

I DID know about them-- only because over hre, kids start school soooo early, and our little guy (4 years) was reading books because they started with sight words.
Ok, going over to see how it went for you now...

kittenpie said...

Oh yeah, those little words that we just get to know and not have to ponder. And then there are the lists of the 100 most common words that go up on the word wall as the class learns them... (Yes, I'm helping set up a kindergarten classroom next week for the third year in a row, since Misterpie teaches kindergarten, too.)

IRISHKAT said...

Aaaah, sight words. They are a glorious thing! Wait till they have to start spelling them for tests - yikes!

April said...

Don't they use this sort of thing on Sesame St.? I think Sylvia does better with learning to spell in context with something else. She gets a little frozen with the concept of memorizing. At the same time, the girl can memorize lyrics to a song faster than anyone I know!

Adrian said...

I taught my son to read at a very early age with sight words. It was very easy and he enjoyed it tremendously. Check out a book called "Teach Your Baby To Read" by Glenn Doman. I guarantee, you'll be amazed and you'll look at your child in a whole different light. I actually attended his program for brain injured children in Philadelphia and I found him to be a wonderful and amazing man who is in love with all the children of the world!

chelle said...

We have slowly started introducing sight words to our four year old ... fun times!

Jenifer said...

Our school focuses on site words quite a bit in kindergarten. We are given words to practice at home, which basically means we try to point them out while reading. My eldest was reading on her fourth birthday and my youngest who is nearly five is no where near that.

I think they pick it up when they are ready. Keep reading to Graham that is the best practice you can do.

Karen MEG said...

I remember the boy having word cards come home with him for homework in kindergarten and grade 1. I definitely have to check this out now that the girlie will be starting JK in less than 2 weeks .. gulp!

JCK said...

I didn't know that about sight words. It seems like it would be helpful to do both sight words and phonics.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Interested to read your review.
Jude (our third), at 4.5, is in the beginning reader stages now, he can read little books independently and lots more with help.
Reading here has been less a deliberately taught subject than a natural extension of our speech and play. Sight words have been picked up through repetitive exposure in the books I read them and in the world around us. Phonics has been taught since toddlerhood through me taking advantage of everyday opportunities like: your name starts with J, juh, juh, juh, J
J is for juh, juh, juh jam and juh, juh, juh juice...
Words and letters fill our world and I point them out and they ask about them too. So far this approach has worked very well.

Going over to read your review!

womaninawindow said...

It's funny to me, the science that is behind reading. There is ALOT of it and many conflicting approaches. Just like you guys do, the best way to teach reading, is exposing themt to it. A lot!

Kimmylyn said...

Sight words. never heard of it.. and with Kindergarten quickly approaching I guess I should get on the stick..

Thanks!

Bryan said...

i have a giant stack of them on index cards for my kids. we alternate between those and 'math facts' every night.

Jaina said...

Interesting, makes a lot of sense though.

Barrie said...

Oh yeah, I did the sight-words thing with my kids. In fact, I volunteered in my daughter's kindergarten class (a couple of years ago) where we used a programme called "Reading Racers" to help the kids learn sight words.