Dolch words are frequently used words that form the foundation for reading. They were first identified by William Dolch in 1948. This set of words has helped my two elementary school children gain reading comprehension. As the Mother of a dyslexic child learning different ways to approach the reading process is critical. Working with my son’s teacers and special education professionals, they taught me innovative, effective ways to help my child learn how to read.
These word lists are now commonly used in elementary schools to create base for children to learn how to read. They are also known as sight words, words that a child can memorize the form of and read by sight rather than sounding out. The words can easily be combined into simple phrases and stories for the child to read.
These word lists provide great opportunities for fun games and challenges to encourage reading in young children. Small rewards will encourage children to see the reading process as fun and exciting. M&M candy, stickers, even an extra minute on the computer or game system for every word is a good way to encourage your child. Using a progressive sticker chart for a bigger reward is also effective. Set the reward prior to the challenge and follow through.
Set a timer for a short period of time. This should be between one and three minutes. Challenge your child to read as many words as possible from the list. Highlight or place a check beside each word. If one cannot be figured out move on immediately to the next word. Also skip words that were incorrectly said. Count the number at the end and write the number boldly on top while praising your child. This challenge worked best with my non-dyslexic child. He loved the challenge of working quickly to beat the clock. Small candies worked as a great incentive to read more and more in a short time frame.
Dolch Magazine Word Safari
Give your child a list of Dolch words and a magazine. Allow your child to use a pair of safe scissors to cut out Dolch words found within the pages of the magazine. Using a glue stick, create a collage. After it is completed, have your child read back the words that he or she collected. Both of my children enjoyed this activity. They loved the hands on nature of a word safari. They would challenge each other to try to find words outside of the Dolch list they could read in order to get bonus points!
Get a wide variety of colored markers. Have your child write out the words in an arch with each letter a different color. It is fun to create a page of word rainbows. My dyslexic child used this activity frequently. It was one way to making sense of words and spelling. The bright colors helped to put each letter in its proper place within his mind.
Have your child create simple rhymes using the Dolch word list. If a word does not have a rhyming partner on the list, feel free to supplement or create a silly substitute word. This will allow your child to become familiar with the phonics of reading.
Allow your child to write as many words as he or she can remember onto a whiteboard using dry erase markers. This is a great activity for your child to do while you are making dinner or engaged in another activity that takes some of your attention. This will encourage your child to work independently, but know you are there if truly needed.