The Government sets out certain words that children should be secure on reading by certain ages in the National Curriculum. Many schools also use these as spelling targets too.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the focus tends to be on High-Frequency Words (HFW) and simple ‘tricky’ words that do not follow traditional phonetic spelling patterns.
In addition, in EYFS and Key Stage 1 (Years 1&2), the children may also be looking at securing the first 100 and next 200 HFW words for reading and spelling.
Year 1, Year 2, Year 3&4, Year 5&6 have progressively harder word lists known as Common Exception Words. This simply means words with an unusual spelling.
How many tricky words are there?
This is a little ‘tricky’ to answer. There are officially labelled ‘tricky words’ for each Phonic phase, however the common exception words are pretty ‘tricky’ to spell too. BUT I’m glad you’ve asked, because we’ve put together some handy lists for you to refer to.
Don’t forget, you children will be exposed to these words to help them read related words. For example if they can read ‘accommodate’, they could work out ‘accompany’, ‘accommodating’, ‘accommodation’ etc.
More About HFW and Tricky Words: The Basics
Children learn to segment (break down) and blend (put together) words from the start of their reading journey. However, some words crop up so much in everyday reading, that they are encouraged to ‘sight read’ some of these words to increase fluency in reading. These are known as High-Frequency Words or HFW. For example: it, and.
Your child will also be taught Tricky Words. Tricky words are also words that pop up frequently in our everyday reading but are ones that usually do not follow the phonetic patterns taught. They are ones that are difficult, if not possible to sound out. For example: the, we.
List of High-Frequency and Tricky Words for Learning to Read with Phonics
Here is a list of the HFW and Tricky Words that your child is going to be taught at school. This is one order that may be taught to your child, but it may vary depending on the teaching progeamme used by your child’s school.
Phase 2 Words
READ: is, it, in, at, and, the, to, no, go, I, on, a
Phase 3 Words
READ: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are
SPELL: the, to, no, go
Phase 4 Words
READ: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what
Phase 5 Words
READ: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, water, where, who, again, thought, through, work, mouse, many, laughed, because, different, any, eyes, friends, once, please, very, I’m, by, time, please
SPELL: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, what, out, oh, their, people, water, there, where, again, thought, through, work, mouse, many, laughed, because, different
More PHonics Words
Need more ideas for words used using the sounds as your little learner discovers more? Check out our helpful list for phase appropriate words.
For more information, ideas and printables, we recommend you check out the Letters and Sounds website. MANY schools follow Letters and Sounds for sequence and activities.