Mom-to-Mom Support/Several people have told me I should be teaching my daughter on sight words

Several people have told me I should be teaching my daughter on sight words


I am currently using your preschool program for my 5-year-old, she will start kindergarten in the fall. I have had several people tell me that I should be working with my daughter on sight words such as the Dolch and Fry sight words. I am concerned about confusing my daughter as we are still working on identifying upper and lower case letters and working on letter sounds. I would love to hear your input…thank you!

Dear Mom,

You are a wise mom to be concerned about confusing your daughter.  Stay the course, and she’ll have a firmly-built foundation that eliminates confusion and leads to reading success.

After learning upper and lower case letters, and mastering all the letter sounds, your daughter will be ready to launch into the sound blend strips that are the next step in Little Stories for Little Folks.  These strips will help her develop a life-long habit of sounding out words that are unfamiliar to her— “decoding”—a skill that might never be gained if she begins with sight words first.

Using sight words as the primary reading approach is putting the cart before the horse; sight words will be introduced only after she develops her first means of “word-attack”: the ability to phonetically decode the words.

Little Stories for Little Folks does teach essential sight words such as “the” early in the game—but only after the student has developed the tools to “sound out.”  (The “sight words” approach earned the nickname “look and guess” for a good reason; when introduced too early, children often guess at words rather than sounding them out.  “Whole language” or “sight reading” is essentially nothing more than rote memorization of every word in the English language; time spent in endless memorization drills for each word is far better spent acquiring decoding tools.)

In addition, students who learn decoding first become better spellers!

You are an insightful mom, with good instincts.  Do continue the step-by-step, sequential learning approach that you are using for the best results.

May our good Jesus bless and guide as you homeschool for eternity.

Nancy Nicholson

About Nancy Nicholson

Nancy Nicholson is one of the founding authors of Catholic Heritage Curricula. Equipped with an abundance of God-given talent, a major in Secondary Education–English, and years of experience homeschooling her own children, she has written over thirty educational titles, beginning with Little Stories for Little Folks. Her unique ability to develop programs and workbooks that “fit” both advanced and struggling students is due to her experience raising children of different ability levels and learning styles: two of her children are developmentally challenged, while another went on to graduate from Harvard and is now a college professor.