sight words?


I have heard a wide range of opinions when it comes to discussing the topic of teaching sight words and early reading in pre-k.  Some I’ve talked to are against it – saying it’s too early and just because children are able to learn something doesn’t mean they should.  Others say they are going to learn it anyways so we might as well start now.  Still others I’ve talked to say they aren’t sure if they should or shouldn’t teach them to their preschoolers.  This is the group I’m in now.  The I’m-not-so-sure-if-I-should-teach-sight-words-or-how-to-do-it-if-I-wanted-to group.  Yep, that’s me.

I always thought this was something that was supposed to be done in Kindergarten.  I mean,  I have children who at the end of the year can still barely hold a pencil and don’t even know half the letters.  I know they aren’t ready.  But still – I have some who I think could handle it – should I be teaching them more?  If so, how do I do it when my school invests in absolutely no curriculum and I’ve never done it before?  It seems very overwhelming to me

I’m open to opinions and suggestions.  What do you think?  Have you, or do you teach sight words to your preschoolers?  I’d like to hear what some of you do or don’t do when it comes to this topic.  I’d like to learn more and I thought a great place to start would be to ask other professionals out there in the blogging world!  So – comment away – I’m eagerly awaiting your thoughts!  🙂


About deepbluetide

I am a pre-kindergarten teacher at a private christian school. I work mornings with 4 year olds (most of whom enter my class in July still being 3 - they're babies!) and then in the afternoon work "daycare" - which is basically my own class combined with 5 year old children. One things for sure - it's never dull! I had no idea growing up I would be teaching pre-k today! It took me totally off guard - but in the end I wouldn't change a thing! I have worked with children whose age range is 6 weeks through 12 years. In the end I have decided that my current age group is my favorite! And in case you were wondering - all names mentioned are changed to protect the identities of those involved. Enjoy!

6 responses »

  1. There is always such a wide range of abilities in a preschool classroom –like you said, some children are ready and others do not know all of their letters yet. I don’t “teach” sight words, personally. We talk about letters and letter sounds as a natural part of daily conversations and we have text in our environment — the children’s names, calendar, lots and lots of books — so if a child wants to know what a word looks like, you can help them find it in the room. That gives them the independence to know they are a real reader and they can use those “finding a word” skills later. They will naturally start using ther knowledge of letter sounds to find words or guess words. Sorry to be so long-winded, but I think the best way to teach early literacy is to let children explore it at their own pace! If you had a “curriculum”, you would have to sit the children down and teach them reading lessons. And that wouldn’t keep them excited about reading, I don’t think.

  2. It also depends on the type of program you teach in. Our program is full-day and our students learn all their letters and letter sounds the first half of the year in fun, meaningful, and DAP ways. We have a daily “letter work” time where the children do hands-on activities focusing specifically on letters. We also have a strong focus on phonological awareness. Many of our students are ready to learn sight words so we begin introducing them in mid-January. We teach sight words in fun, meaningful, and DAP ways using a multi-sensory approach. We use the Rainbow Words system combined with Heidi Songs, you can read more about how I teach sight words here:

    Many of our pre-k students know more than 50 sight words, some students only know a few, they all learn at their own pace. Research has proven that kids don’t need to know all their letters to start reading. Our kids are extremely excited about learning how to read and they are very motivated to learn the words. They are proud to take their books home every night and sing along with the sight word songs on their iPods.

    Our kindergarten teachers expect pre-k students to be reading on at least an A when they enter Kindergarten so we have to prepare our students for the increased expectations of kinder. If your kinder program doesn’t expect them to know that then maybe that will influence your decision.
    Let us know what you decide 🙂

  3. I don’t teach them to teach them. (Does that make sense?) There are some sight words in our morning message that we write every morning with the kids. The beginning of the year started out with me writing it. Then we all read together. Then the kids share the pen to find letters in the message. Usually the first letter in their names or letter of the week. As the year progresses the ability of the students to participate in the morning message increases. They start spelling out the words for me while I write, listening to letter sounds to figure out which letter comes next. Now they share the pen and come up and write the words for us. These words are seen in some kids journal writing, they write the morning message on their own in the writing center. So, they are getting exposed to the words, practicing the words, etc, but I am not having explicit lessons to teach said words. It is always exposure through purposeful activities. The Morning message is where we write what day it is and where our daily helper practices writing their name, and Concepts of Print such as reading left to right and letter recognition. And some do start to read these words which is an added bonus. The kinder teachers always appreciate it. 🙂

  4. I have my students 2.75 hours/3 days a week. (I have morning and afternoon groups.) Not a lot of time to teach sight words, let alone all the skills they need to walk through the kindergarten doors.

    My classroom is “literacy rich.” There are words everywhere. We talk about letters, we talk about words, sentences and stories. We talk and learn about left to right, top to bottom, front to back. We alliterate, we rhyme and we count syllables. We sing the ABC song with a chart every school day. I try to incorporate nursery rhymes whenever possible too.

    I use my “Classroom Message” each school day. You’ll find the sight words there. It is always the same (except dates, snacks and activities change). That’s where you’ll find the sight words. I don’t sit down and directly teach these words, they are just part of my curriculum.

    I’m of the firm belief that children need to learn social/classroom skills in a preschool classroom over academic skills. The academic skills will come when a child is naturally ready for them. I really think all this “pushing” of kindergarten skills down to the pre-K level is the wrong route to be taking.

    There are so many “prep” skills that are being missed, and children aren’t getting those building blocks to help them become terrific readers. Pre-K children should not be working, they should be playing, socializing and learning to love school.

    I realize I am lucky and work in a private (extremely affordable) preschool environment and don’t have school district standards to meet. We do have our own standards, of course. That being said, our preschool is recognized as one of the best in our city, and kindergarten teachers have told us that they can tell when a child has been to our preschool. (And they mean this in a positive way.) These kindergarteners come through their doors ready to learn.

    So that’s my thoughts. I’ll stay tuned to see what your conclusion is. 😀

  5. I have 20 pre-k students full time. What I’ve come to realize is most are ready for more challenge. I’ve seen many behavior problems in children in other classrooms that come to my class and we have no problems with them. I have a child right now, for the summer program, his parents said this past week “now we hear something positive about him and we are leaving for the summer.”
    We have morning mess. We work on social skills. We role play and use Kelso’s choices to help problem solve. I use learning centers w/ hands on activities. We work a lot on phonic awareness and by January we are ready for more. I never really knew how to teach site words. I’m learning. I did take a few family cvc words from the mini reading books to work on with my class. We learn 5 cvc words from each family group and 1 sight word per group. This is just how it came out working with the mini readers. By the end of the school year they know 25 cvc words and about 15 sight words from our work..but many more on their own. We start off w/ pictures and using our phonic awareness skills we learned from the first of the year. It’s so wonderful to watch a child take a picture, sound out the word and realize they can write each letter sound to make make a word. We make our own mini books as we learn new words. It sticks and by the end of the year I have readers. This year I had 8. All work on their own level, so, yes I have some at the end of the year (2 this year) that are still working on letter sounds. My children love to learn. We use a lot of music, books and silly games at circle time each morning. We celebrate books and we even make skits out of some. The children love it. I think you have to look at your class and decide what do they need. Are they ready? My children that don’t read yet are just not ready. I don’t push it. How can it stick with them and they enjoy it if they are not ready.

  6. If a child has mastered the letters of the alphabet and their basic phonic sounds, she/he should begin learning sight words. A great activity to expose children to sight words is playing a board game called, Er-u-di-tion. This award winning game incorporates over 300 sight words and the letters of the alphabet and their basic phonic sounds in an enjoyable, engaging activity, providing both teachers and parents with a useful tool. Cards are categorized so children of all reading levels can play together!

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