Here’s a good, clear explanation of how wrong schools are to rely so heavily on “sight words” in the early grades.
Reading instruction is reduced to mere memorization when sight words are the backbone of the reading program. Naturally, children can’t “own” as many words if they have to memorize them as they can if they are taught the “code” of how words come together and then can use that code to read any word they please on the first try.
The Whole Language / Balanced Literacy approach to reading instruction is like forcing kids to memorize written symbols, like Egyptian hieroglyphics, instead of cracking the code of how words come together. With systematic, intensive, explicit phonics, you have strategies that you use to decode words. You don’t have to memorize a thing. It’s so much faster and better.
I saw one study that concluded that a child who learns to read with a Whole Language / Balanced Literacy approach, heavy on sight word memorization, will have only 1/100th of the vocabulary of a child who is taught to read with phonics-ONLY instructional methods in the early grades. And we all know vocabulary is destiny. . . .
Share this with a parent whose child is struggling with reading, and maybe with that child’s teacher, too: