Sight Words and the Pressure to Read

sight words, readingKindergarten and first grade moms know this journey all too well. Five and 6-year-olds are deep in the throes of learning how to read, and along with that comes a remarkable amount of anxiety for us parents. The transition from simply reading to your child to expecting them to read back to you can be a bumpy ride.


"Sight words" undoubtedly become a major topic of conversation--and sometimes a major challenge. I know I certainly feel discouraged when my kindergartner reads words like "here, " "went," and "they" one week, and the next week doesn't remember them at all. Am I doing enough?  Should I be drilling him more? It doesn't help that I have my mother in my ear reminding me that if it's not fun for him, I will lose him altogether on the reading path. Yet nothing I do to make it fun seems to be enough fun to actually make him eager to work on his words. Sure, he'll do them, but not with much enthusiasm. Sometimes I worry I've already been to hard on him and now he's somewhat turned off.

Of course, that doesn't mean the pressure on me is turned off. I distinctly recall my son's teacher saying early on that these "sight words" are not necessarily words for him to sound out--they need to be memorized; he should know them on sight. But like I said, some weeks are just better than others. I don't feel relaxed at all about the need to get him reading--and thanks to CafeMom, I know I'm not alone.

My4kidds has a similar story that she shares in The CafeMom Newcomers Club: "I recently found out that my 1st grader is a little behind her class on the level of sight words she knows. I was pretty devastated because I thought she was doing well...She's very smart; just has trouble sitting still and concentrating. So, I wrote out all her sight words and put them on index cards and posted them on this door that is in a main area of the house so she will see them all the time, and made up a couple concentration type games to help her learn them," she says.

An anonymous mom revealed that her kindergartner has already come home with paperwork suggesting that her child be tested for learning disabilities because he doesn't know words like "like," what," to" and "you." She's a nervous wreck now questioning herself about whether or not the teacher sees something she doesn't, or if there is just too much pressure too soon.

I'm not quite sure that the issue is that there is too much pressure on the children at this age, because no matter what, they have to learn to read--and it's been proven that at 5 and 6, this is very doable. But my thing is, how awesome would if be teaching techniques for parents came with the mandate to get kids reading? In my opinion, well, certainly in my house, that's often where the breakdown is.

I did find some fantastic reading help tips from Mrs.Grasshopper who has a 6-year-old kindergartner. I just want to thank her so much! I love them and if you are in the process of teaching your child to read, I bet you'll love them too!

  • use clay or Play-doh to make long snakes and then make them into letters and make the sight words
  • using dry erase markers write them on glass, write the sight words on the mirror in the bathroom. She can read the words while she brushes her teeth or combs her hair
  • use the flash cards as "musical words." Tape them on the floor in a circle, play music, stop the music and ask her what the word is shes on
  • make a bingo game with the words
  • make a word search with the words
  • create the sight words using yarn, tooth picks, Q-tips, beans, macaroni, pipe cleaners, or Popsicle sticks.
  • write the words in salt or sugar in a deep cookie dish
  • try the same thing with jello or pudding
  • write them on a Magnidoodle
  • paint the words with water on a chalk board
  • write the words with glue, then sprinkle with jello, after it dries have her rub the words for a scratch and sniff practice
  • use a tape recorder to practice words
  • use scrabble board letters
  • use magnetic letters on your fridge
  • have her cut them out of a magazine or newspaper
  • use gel shave cream to make the words, let them dry.
  • use flash cards and place them inside shoes, pockets etc
  • put paper clips on each flash card then "fish" for them with a magnet hooked on a string

Is your child learning to read? Do you use sight words? Is it a struggle? Do you have creative techniques to share? Let's join hands on this one.

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