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Eggie's avatar

Should sight words be taught before teaching phonics?

Asked by Eggie (5051 points ) 1 month ago

In teaching kindergartens how to read, should a teacher teach the students sight words using flash cards before teaching students how to phonetically sound out words, or should the phonics be taught first and the sight words after?

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9 Answers

Seek's avatar

Personal experience only:

Alphabet. Alphabet sounds, how to sound-out words, then introduce sight words. It worked for me (in the late 80s) and it worked for my son.

Lifehack: It’s also a good idea to let your kids watch every TV show with closed-captioning on. Especially if there’s a particular show they watch over and over.

The most important thing is to not rush a child into learning how to read that isn’t yet ready for it. Some kids are ready at four or five, others not until they’re seven or older. Pushing a kid that isn’t ready is a really good way to make them resent reading entirely.

Eggie's avatar

So then sounds are the first step, but in a school workshop, I have been told different by the lecturer. I wanted to see if it was true. I taught my class alphabet sounds using the alphabet chart as the first step in their learning to read and it is working, but what I am experiencing is that instead of reading fluently they would constantly stop and sound out the words. Is that normal?

Seek's avatar

Every kid is different, and there is a huge divide between the Sight Words fans and the Phonics fans. Every few years a new curriculum gets pushed into schools and they’ve been flip-flopping between phonics and sight words since about 1990. Why they can’t just get it through their thick skulls that maybe one way works for some kids and one way for others is beyond me.

FlyingWolf's avatar

My kids were taught with a combination of sight words and phonics (in two different states prior to Common Core) which worked quite well. Beginning in kindergarten they were given sight words weekly and by the end of first grade they’d learned 100 or so. At the same time they were taught phonics and word patterns. They each learned to read at a different pace. The oldest didn’t really get the hang of it until he was in second grade, the second seems to read and spell right off the bat, and the third was right in the middle.

Yes, it is normal for some kids to slow down and sounds words out.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I have to agree with Seek, worked for me and I’m a major reader, speller, etc.. I actually just applied for a narrator job reading audio books for money, super-excited!

jerv's avatar

I’m with @Seek ; it depends on the kid. Personally, I was already reading at a third-grade level when I hit kindergarten (at age 4; my mother had to fight the state because I was 3 weeks too young), so it’s safe to say that what worked for me (just following along as my mother read aloud) wouldn’t work for everyone.

zenvelo's avatar

It is not a progression of Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, but rather a combination of different aspects.

I was taught with the Dick and Jane books, which is letter sounds and sounding out words. That gives a kid enough confidence to sift read easier words. But the decoding of more complex words was through phonics.

And different kids learn in different ways; there isn’t a single best path to teach reading. The challenge is to find what works for a kid and help her or him to master that method.

JLeslie's avatar

I was taught sounding words out. I don’t remember any flash cards or sight words being taught to me. A few years later the school system started doing it. From what I have read educators go back and forth on what is better, and probably the truth is what @Seek said, it partly depends on the specific child. Also, I do think pushing children who are not ready to read might be a negative. I was initially taught to read with Sally, Dick and Jane books, and yes I used to sound words out and it took a long time to get through a passage. I am not a reader, I hated reading through school and still today I almost never read a book. I don’t know if age had anything to do with it, but I was 5 and 6 in 1st grade. I came from a reading family. To this day it still drives my father crazy that I don’t enjoy reading.

LostInParadise's avatar

There is a really silly shouting match between those who favor phonics and those who prefer sight learning. It takes on political overtones, with conservatives tending to favor phonics and liberals preferring sight learning. From what I have read (and just using common sense), the best strategy is a combination. A purely phonetic approach can’t possibly work since English is not a phonetic language. How do you sound out “the”? What rule distinguishes between the oo sound in “good” and “food”? A purely sight approach can’t work, since there is no way that a person is going to be able to memorize the pronunciation of thousands of words.

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