Use Phonics Rules and Patterns to Teach Sight Words or High Frequency Words

I shared free printable flashcards on this blog through MediaFire. Many people have printed them. Every Friday I've been posting about teaching with these flashcards. Some high frequency words follow phonics rules and some don't. I think children should be taught to match letter sounds and adjust some sounds when teaching a child high frequency words. I'm not an advocate of teaching words by shape or sight. Sight word learning comes after learning to read a word and repeated exposure to a word.
My thinking about sight word learning has changed over time. My daughter began having problems with reading after learning to read many words by sight only. She looked in the air instead of at a word when she got stuck on a word in a story. As soon as I showed her to use letter sounds and blend those sounds together when reading, her reading improved dramatically. We used Phonics Pathways and
Reading Pathways to practice blending sounds outside of books. She got frustrated and angry when reading books. She was used to guessing at words, knowing words by sight, and using picture clues without using letter sounds in books. When I helped her with books, it was all mom's fault she couldn't read. She'd roll and the floor and yell, "I know how to read, Mom! Leave me alone." She was a good reader in emergent reader books, but she couldn't read the harder books without being able to sound out words.

Now you know why I'm not an advocate for sight word learning only. I do think some sight word learning is okay. I compare sight words to training wheels on a bike. It gives an emergent reader a way to read before being able to sound out all words. Try teaching a child to use letter sounds and patterns to read high frequency words. I remember a study somewhere that concluded children learn words much faster by sounding them out than by sight word learning. Plus it gets them ready for the real reading that is necessary outside of emergent reader books. 

This post is a follow-up to my previous post, Help a Child Learn High Frequency Words with Related Phonics Rules.

Most Words with a Long A Sound at the End Are Spelled with  AY

Wa Together at the Beginning of a Word -
Words that start with wa make the a sound like a short o. (walk, want, watch, water)

The Long U Sound of O at the End of a Word

OW and OU Sounds

Schwa Sound - Find a post about teaching the schwa sound here. Look for this picture in the middle of the post. All vowels make the schwa sound in some words. It's a very common sound. It sounds like a short u. I teach kids to think of the schwa sound like the "uh" sound some people make when they are thinking.



Peggy said...

Phonics is appropriate for some children learning to read. But not so for others. So many theories about how to teach reading! Marilyn Adams wrote extensive details about identifying the characteristics of skilled readers concluding that good phonic instruction should be taught early and thoroughly. And Frank Smith (1985) believes “The system of ‘phonics’ is both cumbersome and unreliable…” and “… is dysfunctional in fluent reading and interferes with learning to read.” There’s a problem with each theory. So it is just right for some children and not at all beneficial for others. And although there are similarities among children, each one is different.

I taught beginning reading for many years and found these differences.

See more about this in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success”. See 7 reviews on

Michelle said...

Thanks for your input. I'll look into your book.
I am developing my ideas about teaching reading by evaluating research and through my own teaching experiences.
I agree that a one size fits all approach to teaching reading does not work!
You should search for information and insights by The Reading Genie.

joanna said...

what are your thoughts about using computer programs to help teach pre K children to read? I work with young children, 2/3 years old and have a 2 year old who has mastered the basics already - "the cat sat on the mat" and "Peg the red hen" etc. It is the first time I have worked with such a young child with the computer but he loves it and it has left me amazed. I don't know if it is an isolated case or if others have found that they have similar results. Joanna

Michelle said...

It sounds like you've had experience with Starfall's website. I think it's great. My oldest son learned his letter sounds at 2 with a abc game. It depends on the child. Interactions with adults is important. Computers programs etc. should supplement interactions with adults. It is amazing how some children catch on early.