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Tricky words to read and spell

‘Tricky words’ and ‘high frequency words’

High frequency words are a mixture of decodable words (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. Children learn these words as part of their phonics lessons but your support at home is vital.

Throughout the year, we will send home your child’s next words to learn to read, and also words to spell in their reading record book. Here is the list of the 100 most frequent words that we are working towards:

Ways to help your child learn them at home:

  • Duplicate your child’s given words and use them as flashcards/ to play snap with.
  • Cut out high frequency word lists and stick them on a prominent place so your child has a visible reminder while they're learning them.
  • Magnetic letters – good for helping children with tricky words. Leave some up on the fridge.
  • Memory games - place flashcards downwards for a game of pairs.
  • Ask your child to look out for high frequency words on signs when you are out and about.
  • Choose three or four of the words and help your child make a silly sentence containing as many of them as possible.
  • Make sure your child sees you reading. 1 in 7 adults struggle with reading, support can be found here if it is needed. 
  • Don't worry – all children learn at their own pace. The more fun a task is, the better your child will learn.


The sounds that children learn in their phonics sessions to help them read are below, they can also be found at the front of their reading record book. I have included the ‘tricky words’ from each phase for your information (these are all included in the high frequency words as they are also very common, just spelt in an unusual way).