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How to help your child read tricky words

Your child will learn to read and spell tricky words during their phonics sessions. You might hear them referred to as something else such as red words, common exception words or sight words. I like to call them tricky for now words because once we learn the tricky part they are no longer tricky!

Many people say that tricky words cannot be sounded out. However, they can be sounded but as they are often irregular/break the rules or contain a sound that hasn't been taught yet they aren't easy to decode.

How should I teach my child to read them?

We often we try to get children to memorise them and read them by sight. We can play games to help children become familiar with the words but before we play them we should introduce the word by looking at the sounds they know and identifying the tricky part. This means there is only a small part of the word that needs to be memorised.

1. Say the word to your child and get them to repeat it.

2. Count how many sound are in the word e.g. there are two sounds in the word my, m-y. Your child will probably have learnt to represent the second sound using the trigraph igh so if you asked them to spell the word they might write migh.

3. Show your child the tricky word card. Point to the sound buttons as you sound out the word e.g. m-y, my.

4. Explain that the part written in black is how we would expect to see it written (m) but the white part might not look how they expected it to. This is the tricky part that we need to learn off by heart. Tell them that in this word the igh sound is represented by the letter y.


The Reception Phase 2 - 4 pack contains tricky word cards and heart words to help your child to identify the tricky part which they need to learn off by heart.


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