Learning to read in English involves the learning of “High Frequency Words” (known as “Sight Words” in the US).
These are lists of roughly 40 to 50 commonly words (he, she, run, again…) depending on the school year of the child. Though personally I root for the phonics method (breaking down words to syllables to read them) and not the global method (sight reading), high frequency words can be extremely useful when it comes to words that are not pronounced the way they are spelt. They also help the child to pick up reading a little faster as the child does not waste time every times/he encounters simple common words such as “he” in a book.
However, learning a list of 40 words is pretty boring and I certainly could not see myself getting my daughter learning like this. So I got the idea to make basic little flashcards:
A little time consuming
- An enveloppe
- A felt-tip
- A block of white paper
- Scissors (unless you want to neatly tear like I did 😉 )
- Visit https://sightwords.com/sight-words/dolch/#lists to find the list of words that matches your child’s school year
- Take a sheet of paper and fold it in 8.
- Cut the sheet following the folds, either using scissors or gently tearing. You will end up with 8 little square papers per sheet.
- Make as many little papers as words on your list.
- Write 1 High Frequency Word per little paper using the same felt-tip.
- Store the whole set in an open envelope.
- Label the envelope with the High Frequency Word level (e.g: Year 1) using the same felt tip as the one used on the little papers. This will act as a some colour-code to identify the flashcard level at a glance, should your child mix various sets together.
- You can also use fancier coloured paper, but personally I preferred white paper with a colour that stands out in the hope that the stark contrast will leave an imprint in my daughter’s mind 🙂
- To save time, you can replace the paper squares by blank index cards.
- You don’t have to go through the whole bunch each time. A few cards every day as a friendly quiz over breakfast will do the trick if you do it on a regular basis (consistency is the key).
- You can also do a written quiz version, flashing the card to your child a few seconds and then asking him/her to write the word on a little whiteboard or with magnetic letters. This will enable your child to practice their writing skills in addition to their reading ones.