There are so many terms floating around these days, for those essential words young beginning readers need to be able to read as quickly as possible–Dolch Words, Fry Words, High Frequency Words ,and Saskatchewan Learning now calls them Commonly Used Words. (Table 5) I like that term-it is also easy to explain to kids : ” These are words you are going to need to be able to read and write because they are very important, and you will see them everywhere.”
Every word you can read quickly, without thinking about it, is a sight word. You know it quickly by sight, from memory. We generally want as many words as possible to be a sight word for us. How much would we read as adults, if we had to sound out or think about the parts of each word we read?
Some people limit the term sight word to refer only to high-frequency words or
to irregularly spelled words. However, this is not accurate. Any word that is read
sufficiently often becomes a sight word that is read from memory. Ehri Page 3
Words are most easily learned, when students have personal connections or background knowledge to help them understand the meaning and have also been taught word recognition processes to help them tackle new words. That is why it is so important to develop as much vocabulary as soon as possible, while learning the letter sound relationships from a very early age. Read more
Simply put no matter what we call them, we need them, but if we only focus on the commonly used words, if we only teach from lists, we will lose the exciting engaging words, the butter on the popcorn , that makes reading fun, engaging, interesting -if and when almost everything we read has become our sight words.