I feel very strongly that too many kindergarten and first grade classrooms focus too much on Sight Words and not enough on Phonics. My nephew's school does sight words. We chose to do Distar with Primus. (Distar is very heavy phonics-based.) Primus, as a kindergartner, is reading better than my nephew, as a first grader.
Now, of course this could be because Primus is a girl, or that she is naturally talented at reading, or any other number of reasons. But for the sake of this argument, I am going to assume it is because of this Sight Words vs Phonics issue.
I was looking at nephew's sight word list and one word that jumped out at me was, "like." Seriously? This is a sight-word? How about instead of teaching him to memorize this word, you teach him the "silent-e" rule? So then that way he can apply that rule to many, many different words he will encounter? "Like" is definitely a word a child should be able to sound-out.
Or how about this word, "it." Really?? How hard is it to teach a kid what "i" says and then teach them what "t" says? And then with that knowledge they can sound-out "it" or "tip" or "tin," etc. Why do they need to emphasize memorizing this little word, "it?"
Am I way off base? Do I need to observe one of these classrooms in action? Admittedly, I have only ever had personal experience with Distar. Am I missing something? Also, I do admit that the American-English language is kind of ridiculous and that there are plenty of words that don't follow any of the phonics rules.
Anyway, now that Primus has finished her 100 lessons in Distar, I am kind of at a loss of what to do. One of the things our ES (the teacher at the charter school that checks up on us) suggested is now working on high-frequency words (sight words). So, given that Primus has a really good background in phonics, I've decided to give it a go. I've downloaded all the Dolch lists. It will be fun to see how fast she can zoom through and pass off words that she already knows how to read.
I also found this good website that has printable record sheets and games for using with Dolch. The games sound really fun. So maybe we'll get a chance to play some of them. I'll let you know how it goes!