At every stage of learning to read, children master new phonics skills and patterns. Any word that doesn’t fit what they already know is called a ‘tricky’ word.
Many tricky words are quite common and very useful: the, said, no, I, and so on. Your child’s teacher will introduce them gradually, some at each stage.
They are also known as ‘irregular’ or ‘sight’ words. Common words are also known as ‘high-frequency’.
The best way to read tricky words together is to point out that the word is tricky and sound out the different sounds: for example, said has the simple ‘s’ sound, the tricky part (ai) that makes an ‘e’ sound, and the simple ‘d’ sound.
The high-frequency tricky words for each stage are:
RED – the, to, I, go, no, into
ORANGE – he, she
YELLOW – we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are
GREEN – said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what
BLUE – oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could
Many names are tricky words! Young children are often delighted to discover that their name has special letters and sounds. For example, Lily has a y that makes an ‘ee’ sound. Ashok has s and h that team up to make a ‘sh’ sound. And so on.