Recently I answered this question as a JustAsk Expert at Education.com. Having gone through this with clients and my own kids, I thought I’d share my response with my readers here as well.
The Question: I am considering beginning to work with sight words with my son. Is four too early? He won’t start kindergarten until he is almost six, and he knows most of the alphabet already.
My Answer: First of all, pat yourself on the back for doing all you can to get your son ready for kindergarten! Great job! When to start working with sight words is different for every child.
Before getting started on words, make sure he knows his upper case and lower case letters. While you’re at it, you could work on identifying numbers 1 to 10, too.
Then, you’ll want to start teaching him the sounds that each letter makes. Jumping right in to sight words can be confusing if your child doesn’t understand the sounds that go along with each letter. You can practice that skill easily with the same alphabet flashcards you’ve probably been practicing with. Just hold one up and say, “What sound does this letter make?” Same flashcards, just a different question!
After you feel that he’s gotten a good handle on the sounds, then it’s probably time to start with some easy sight words. I’m attaching a link to some of the words that are most used in kindergarten. The link even has a printable sheet that you can cut for flashcards.
And of course, throughout it all keep reading to him his favorite stories, so he can see those words in action!
Best of luck and again, great job on giving him the head start he needs!
(Stopping by from SITS 31DBBB) This post turned out great! I agree with you that letter identification and sounds should come first. I was a nanny for 11 years and in one of the families I worked with the 4 year old learned sight words before he even knew his letters and sounds. It was very hard to teach him his letters – I think he was so backwards and confused!
He probably was confused, but probably bright too (knowing sight words at 4!). Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!
I am a former first grade teacher and now a stay-at-home mom. My daughter is five and we are just beginning to work on sight words. She has her letter sounds, and I feel that she is now ready for the next step. I ordered blank index cards from a school teaching supply site and we creating a system where we read a sight word, write it on an index card, and then put it in a recipe box that my daughter decorated. She loves her working with words time.
What a great idea! I am sure that she loves her working with words time! How precious. Sounds like she is ready to start her sight words and will be on to reading before you know it. Thanks for sharing this great idea!
Amanda C says
My son learned all 220 sight words by the end of Kindergarten (that includes 3rd grade words). But he has trouble with reading comprehension. The ability to read more books though gives us an advantage that we always find books that peak his interests and motivation to understand the material.