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Language and Literacy: Sight Words

Sight words are words which are non-decodable by the child at this stage in his reading development and must therefore be learnt through sight recognition very much along the lines of ‘Look and Say’. The sight words are introduced to the child from the age of four years onwards. The first words the child needs are the definite and indefinite articles, so these will need to be taught straight away to the child.

In the Montessori setting, the three-period lessons are important for the child because in each period lesson the child will be able to grasp the concept of the sight words. The three-period lesson Montessori approach is as follows: 1) First period: Associate sight and sound of the sight words - (The teacher gives the child three sight words at a time, starting with ‘I, you, said’. Then, points out the respective sounds to him/her. After each sound, the child will then repeat as many times as he/she wants of the sight words. All the sight words are taught using this method.) 2) Second period: Perception. (A child should be able to recognise the sight words upon hearing the corresponding sound. The teacher, pronouncing the sight words, asks the child to point at the specific cards. If a child cannot recognise the sight words, the teacher then will ask him/her to repeat each sight word again. 3) Third period: Speech. (The child should be able to pronounce the sight words. This is evaluated by asking the child to read the various sight word cards.)

Another way to present the sight words to the children in the Montessori classroom or at home is by playing a game with the child. For example, the teacher or the parent can say ‘Can you bring me a pencil’ (there are many in the room). ‘Please bring me a book’, (again, there are many to choose from), but, ‘Can you bring me the vase’, (only one in the room). ‘Please bring me the farm box’, (again, there is only one in the room). When the teacher or parent says ‘a’ it means one of many, but when the teacher or parent says ‘the’ it means that there is only one. This way it is more fun for the child and will make the words more meaningful when taught in their symbolic form through the ‘Three period Lesson.’

The most common sight words for the child to learn from age four years onwards are: (the, of, and, a, to, in, is, you, that, it, he, was, for, on, are, as, with, his, they, I, at, be, this, have, from, she, her).

Objective of teaching the children sight words: 1) To introduce words which the child cannot decode such as ‘the, a, of, and, to’ etc.

“Everything you say to the child is absorbed, catalogued and remembered.” - Maria Montessori -



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