Information for Parents
What are common exception words?
As your child learns to read you might hear them talk about the 'common exception words' they are learning.
Exception words are words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way. They are not words for which phonics 'doesn't work', but they may be exceptions to spelling rules, or words which use a particular combination of letters to represent sound patterns in a rare or unique way.
Some exception words are used very frequently, which is why children are introduced to them very early on in their phonics learning (in Reception, alongside high frequency words, and in Key Stage 1).
What are High Frequency Words?
In Reception, your child will be given around 45 high frequency words to learn over the year – the aim is for them to be able to recognise these words and to be able to read them. Children learn these words as part of their phonics lessons and may also bring high frequency words home to read (ring of words or flash cards).
High frequency words are common words, words that appear very often in written texts. They are a mixture of decodable (words that can be sounded out) and tricky/exception words (words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight).
It is really important that children learn how to read these words as they will make up a large proportion of the words they will be reading in everyday texts. They also need to learn to spell these words as they will find they will need to use them a great deal in their writing.
The top 100 high frequency words (in order of frequency of use) are: the, and, a, to, said, in, he, I, of, it, was, you, they, on, she, is, for, at, his, but, that, with, all, we, can, are, up, had, my, her, what, there, out, this, have, went, be, like, some, so, not, then, were, go, little, as, no, mum, one, them, do, me, down, dad, big, when, it's, see, looked, very, look, don't, come, will, into, back, from, children, him, Mr, get, just, now, came, oh, about, got, their, people, your, put, could, house, old, too, by, day, made, time, I'm, if, help, Mrs, called, here, off, asked, saw, make, an.
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