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Phonetically aware

by Tricia Hedrick
(Hammond Indiana)

My six year old grandson sounds out words, His kindergarten teachers emphasis is on sight words. She says that when she tested him he doesn't know sight words needed for first grade, yet he can spell the words.

When his mom was going into first grade I worked on phonics with her. Like my grandson's class, kids who knew sight words were considered smart. Later around third grade my daughter was ahead of the so called smart kids, because she was able to sound out words rather than try to remember all the words in the English language.

She is a College graduate with a double masters. The so called sight word smart kids barely made it out of high school. Go Phonics!!!!

Comments for Phonetically aware

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Response
by: Karen

You are correct that some schools have sight words as their only form of reading in the early grades. And schools test to their curriculum, so a student who does not have that emphasis will test lower.

If your local school school has a sight-word only emphasis, you have three choices:

1)Let them go to school and teach them phonics yourself. As you explained with your daughter, the phonics advantage showed up later. It will not show up on kindergarten and first grade tests that are designed for a sight-word curriculum.

2)Use the common sight words as the basis of teaching phonics. For instance, the color words are usually among the sight words taught in kindergarten. You can teach:
  • red, bed, fed, wed
  • pink, sink, think, wink
  • black, back, sack, tack
  • yellow, bell, tell, fell

You are teaching phonics, but making sure the student is exposed to the common sight words. The sight word/phonic families on this site at early reading words show how to do that.

3) Consider homeschooling and tailoring the reading program to the child. Local schools would like to do that. Many have reading specialists who do tailor the reading instruction for struggling readers. They have multiple strategies, work one-on-one with the child, and use what strategies and tools helps the child learn to read the best. It isn't possible for schools to provide that one-on-one instruction for every student. But of course, parents can.

Thanks for sharing about your daughter. It is a encouragement to many other parents that those hours invested sitting with their child will pay great dividends in the years to come.

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