Sight Word Significance

The Significance of Sight Words in Early Reading


When I was teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten, I made sure that my classroom library had two copies of the loved children’s book, “Put Me In The Zoo.” My students loved to listen and read this book, but before they could read it independently, I had to teach them lots of sight words… because just on the first page- 12 out of 14 words are classified as sight words! book sight words


So what exactly is a sight word?

Sight words:

…do not follow traditional English language rules.

…are difficult or impossible to sound out and decode.

…must be memorized as a whole word to read successfully.

…are used so much in print it is more efficient to memorize them for fluency purposes.

Mr. Edward William Dolch recognized 220 words that meet the above criteria. He then organized the words into 5 levels for children to learn between Pre-Kindergarten and 3rd grade. Sight words include words such as, ‘have’ ‘my’ and ‘like.’ 

Children learn sight words easily because they memorize the whole word without breaking it apart. For example, ‘have’ is ‘have’ and ‘the’ is ‘the,’ no decoding needed. They are also words that make up most of your child’s daily vocabulary and spoken sentences, so they are easy for them to recognize visually because they have heard them spoken so often.

Now that you understand what sight words are, below are 6 reasons that explain how vitally significant sight words are in your child’s reading development:

  1. Sight words make up 60-85% of the words used in books and early reading resources that your child will use when they are learning to read.
  2. They will not waste effort trying to sound out sight words because they realize that they are not decodable (the, I, have, want), which frees up their ‘thinking energy’ to sound out other words that are decodable (cat, pig, hot, bug).
  3. Memorizing sight words can help reduce reading anxiety and frustration because children will memorize the whole word and, once mastered, will easily recognize them while reading.
  4. Since your child will spend less time trying to sound out sight words, their reading fluency will improve which will increase opportunities for them to comprehend what they are reading (now that gets me excited!!!)
  5. They will be able to make connections to words and put words in context that are difficult to explain via picture, action, or explanation (e. can, I, a, the, my, do)
  6. Their reading confidence will rise because they will recognize that they can read many words on a page by themselves hopefully creating a desire to read more!

PreK – 3rd Grade SIGHT WORD LIST [along with the top 25]

So in the beginning of the school year when your child’s teacher hands you a list of words titled “Sight Words” you will now understand what these words are and you will be prepared to teach them to your child with confidence… making you and your child one step ahead!


Joanna Merideth







*BE ON THE LOOK OUT for information regarding
Sight Word Readers
that I am in the process of publishing!
A set of 10 mini-books will be ready for purchase this fall 🙂

Joanna Merideth


  1. Great explanation Joanna!


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