1. Introduction

As children learn the sight words vocabulary and play our sight words games, they inevitably make mistakes where they provide a wrong answer or are unable to sight read the word. The corrections procedure provides feedback, to let the child know their answer was incorrect, and practice opportunities for learning the new word.

The corrections procedure takes just 20 seconds, and gives the opportunity for 6 repetitions of the correct word.

The purpose of this corrections procedure is to help the child learn the word. Focusing on the negative, shaming, discouraging, or punishing the child is counterproductive, as it only draws the child’s attention away from the task at hand. Rather, we want to place the emphasis on the child’s correctly learning the target word that is causing difficulty.

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2. Procedure

We use the sight words corrections procedure when the child incorrectly reads a word or takes more than five seconds to read a word. The corrections procedure takes just 20 seconds and gives the opportunity for 6 repetitions of the correct word:

Video: Sight Words Corrections Procedure

For example, if the mistaken target sight word is should, then we would respond as follows. Each time the child says the word, the adult should rapidly move their finger underneath the word on the card, from left to right. During the correction, we move our finger under the printed word, to draw the child’s attention to the word and to cement the connection between the written and spoken word. We also use the word in a sentence to help the child understand the meaning of the word.

Adult: That word is SHOULD. What word?
Child: SHOULD.
Adult: Again. What word?
Child: SHOULD.
Adult: Yes, SHOULD!
            We SHOULD brush our teeth before bed.
            What word?

Child: SHOULD.

Following the correction, we continue on with the lesson or game. The procedure should be done at a brisk pace and should only take around 20 seconds, allowing you to stay in the flow of the sight words activity. Do not skip over the correction procedure! In fact, print out this PDF of the correction script and keep it with you as a handy reference whenever you are doing a sight words activity.

Notice how the entire focus of the correction was on teaching the child the correct word. We don’t focus attention on the incorrect word, which wastes time and simply reinforces the wrong answer. While it is clear to the child that the original answer provided was not the right answer, the focus is completely on helping them to learn the correct answer. The corrections procedure is positive for the child and the teacher.

Do not detour into a phonics lesson, by sounding out the word. Sight words need to be instantly recognized, not decoded. These words are the ones used most frequently in written English, and many of them do not follow the general spelling and pronunciation rules of phonics. The child should therefore learn to recognize and read the sight words purely by sight.

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3. Frequently Asked Questions

Q: A child is making silly mistakes. They are getting the answers to questions they know wrong or they are deliberately getting answers wrong. What should I do?

A: Start by calmly (if you are getting frustrated, try to relax) telling the child that this is not the time to be silly, and to give you the real answer. Do not reward silly answers with laughing or smiling; any reaction other than ignoring silliness rewards the behavior.

If this behavior persists, escalate your response by saying that if they keep being silly you will stop the lesson. If this warning is ignored, follow through on this consequence. We find it counterproductive to reprimand the child; simply tell them that you stopped the lesson because they are being silly and that they can have another lesson tomorrow.

Particularly when you are working with young children, be prepared for bursts of silliness or days when they simply don’t feel like working. Try to work through this, but it is better to cut short a session than turn it into a battle of wills.

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24 Responses to “Corrections Procedure: Correcting Sight Word Mistakes”

  1. Amy

    Thank you very interesting. I am using this technique for teaching my kids Spanish too.

  2. Astrid

    Oh this website is so insanely helpful!

  3. Cheryl

    This has been so helpful….thanks for all of your hard work in making this website! I am definitely going to use the materials. It is a life saver.

  4. Brianna

    Thank you so much for all the great information….I will definitely be using this with our 5-year-old twins 🙂

  5. Fatima

    Thank you, it’s really very helpful

  6. Becky

    I have been teaching preschool, Kindergarten, and first grade students for 30 years as well as homeschooling my own son. I have never seen (even in all of my professional development) such a comprehensive, developmentally appropriate, beautifully presented, and easy to use resource! You all are to be commended for making this information accessible and easily understandable for everyone, regardless of training (and, amazingly, it’s free!); you have made the gift of literacy possible for every child. I can’t wait to get started implementing this and sharing it with other teachers and parents. Thank you so much!
    P.S. Do you have a record keeping printable that teachers can use to track children’s progress?

    ADMIN – Hi Becky,

    We’re so glad you like the site! We do not currently have a record-keeping template, but we are always open to suggestions for what we should add next!

    • Angela

      I also agree. This site is fantastic and provides worthwhile multisensory activities to assist in learning sight words quickly and easily. Thank you so much for sharing these valuable resources internationally.

  7. Swann Road Early Learning Center

    Thank you for positive procedures.

  8. Dianne Frothingham

    Many thanks for clear, well-presented procedures and examples. You have provided the wherewithal for effective lessons, games to reinforce and the commonly used word lists – saving much time in checking resources. Bravo!

  9. mercylytho

    wooooow so wonderful keep it up

  10. macla

    I’m a tutor and i’m always trying to find ways to help my students improve their reading. Your web site is amazing, thank you so much for sharing these wonderful ideas.

  11. seema

    I am a special educator and have been working for three years. this will be of real help for me as it is in a very systematic format. Please do keep me posted with such ideas so that I can apply them in day-to-day service with students.
    A real good job done by you.

  12. Steven

    This is very helpful. I was looking for a way to correct mistakes, and this is so clear and effective. Thank you.

  13. Josephine

    I really love this page. Wow.
    Thumbs up ☺

  14. Kerrie Musto

    I am a part time volunteer at a local primary school and am working with children from Kindergarten to Grade 2 (Year 2). I work with the ones that are not keeping up with their class peers in literacy. Whilst I have recently completed a teaching aide diploma, I dont have a lot of experience so I do appreciate these tips in working with children.

  15. Rebeccah

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been struggling with teaching my son to read. I homeschool for pre k and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this website. It has given me so much insight and great ideas. I have much more confidence now, thanks to you guys! I think this will help my son so much, and will make our journey to read much easier!

  16. Maria

    This really works. Thank you so much! I needed a method, a script to follow and this really helps me teach my 5 year old sight words. He is making progress. Easy to use, dynamic, keeps the child engaged. This is awesome!

  17. Anna

    You are wonderful. Thank you very much

  18. Linda Lockett

    If a child does not master a sight word, should you introduce new words or stay with that word until the child master it.

    ADMIN – Hi Linda,

    I only work with a few new words at a time. I don’t add more words until those words are mastered.

  19. Gk

    Thanks You. I appreciate that you are very specific with your instructions. I didn’t really know the best way to correct wrong answers before this. I use this same method with lots of things in my classroom now.

  20. Ines

    Excellent Job! Thank you so much. I really love this work.

  21. Joni Anderson

    When my child is saying these words , should I let her try to sound out the word first and then correct her and tell her the word?

  22. Annelous Brongers

    I really love this site!
    I wonder, though, because I work with children that cannot read yet and some of them cannot speak our language because they come from abroad: is it also possible to expand the vocabulary (not only with sight words) with pictures?

  23. Sylvia O. Taylor

    I particularly liked the Video: Sight Words Corrections Procedure.


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