My Introduction to Sight Words
I recall the day I was first introduced to the concept of Sight Words. Shortly after he had just started Kindergarten, my son Carter came home from school carrying a book with 8 words on each page. A book that sparked my curiosity. Apparently, these words were … special … different.
As a child growing up in Jamaica the Sight Words method of teaching children to read was never used or at least not that I can recall. However, now that I am a father of an awesome 5-year-old living in America, it has become an integral part of my teaching and learning routine with him. At first I was skeptical, yes, skeptical, because this new way of learning to read was different from what I was used to, however, I stayed open-minded.
Sight Words Flash Cards Apps
I am of the old school regime when it comes to education. I grew up learning via real, tangible objects with plenty of real world experiences, indoors and outdoors. So, my first thought when it came to helping him learn these Sight Words was to write them out on “flash cards“. That’s how I would’ve done it myself. Once we started it worked well, actually, it worked great. Flash cards were still as effective as they were in my earlier days.
But, then I started to realize a few things:
- Flash cards were somewhat limiting. They needed someone to use them with him and they weren’t accessible all the time.
- He started to get bored with the regular cards. Maybe I didn’t make it fun enough, but regardless, he was seeing it more and more as a chore instead of a fun learning activity.
- He loved using my iPhone and iPad.
- He enjoyed using early learning apps.
The Birth of an Idea, an App
As I’m sure many parents do, once I connected the dots on the potential benefits of using an app as a supplemental way for my son to learn Sight Words, I started doing my research. What apps were out there? Were they any good? I took to the App Store and began trying app after app seeing which ones he connected with and which ones delivered the experience that would keep him engaged and challenged.
Being a coder/developer/creator I was very critical of the apps I tried, noticing their limitations and lack of thorough and thoughtful development. After all, these apps were for my child, the love of my life. They should be cool, they should be fun, and they should be awesome.
After trying out several apps I noticed there were some that were well done, that would accomplish the task but they all had some quirk or the other. That made me want to build one that worked just the way I thought would be most beneficial to him. And so, my journey to create an app that would teach my son sight words, began. It would be an app that we would build together as father and son. This was the birth of SightWords.io, the app and the free online resource.
What Makes a Good Sight Words App?
After reviewing several apps along with my son and of course creating the SightWords.io app I now feel much more educated on the ins and outs of early learning apps. Here are a few things about apps that in my opinion are almost essential, if not just good practice:
Some of the apps I noticed had everything including the kitchen sink. While it can be cool to have all that functionality it can also pose a distraction when the primary goal is for the child to for e.g. only practice Sight Words. Also while kids nowadays are seemingly smarter than us when it comes to using devices, apps that are straightforward in their navigation allow the child to find what they need without frustration.
I’m sure this one might cause a pickle with some but that’s okay. Ads are distracting! The main purpose of these apps is for kids to learn. Distraction = less focus = less learning. Also, in this early range kids probably shouldn’t be allowed to freely purchase apps #justsaying. Free isn’t always the best option.
To learn while having fun is the name of the game. Apps that your child will find fun will stand a much greater chance of continued usage than those they don’t find fun.
This one is easy enough. The app needs to appeal to its audience visually, via colors, imagery and overall presentation while also being able to communicate with your child verbally. This verbal confirmation of the words’ pronunciation is essential for them to be able to use the app without your assistance.
Yes, yes, you caught me. The acronym is S.A.F.E.
Keep these in mind when choosing a Sight Words app for your child and you should end up with a solid app.
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