I have a 5.5 year old DS who I am uncertain if he is gifted, but am convinced he is a visual learner.
He has always had quite a visual memory: At almost 5 he could list stores in order for shopping complexes, i.e.: IHOP is next to barnes and noble, then bed bath and beyond, then party city then shoe carnival, etc... for multiple complexes in our town and a town near ours. Recently he developed a love for maps after our vacation to disney world, and this summer he has been in love with the michigan map. Each time we have went somewhere new he references it on his map. He has a fantastic sense of direction and quite often he is able to indicate what direction is north, without looking at a compass.
He is also a sight reader and after our travels this summer he has been able to pick out words like petoskey, charleviox, and mackinac in situations that are out of context. He'll even point out words that he doesn't know what the word is, but knows he has seen the word before, like the word entertainment. We realized that he knew how to read at 3 years old when he was able to pick out all 20 of his preschool classmates names, since then he has progressed to a 1st to 2nd grade level, all as sight words. Recently he has started to understand the concept of phonics, and this is causing a problem.
He is starting to regress in his reading skills and his confidence in words he knows. He's refusing to read books that I know he knows how to read. This is bothering me because he JUST started kindergarten, and I know that phonics will eventually be used for learning to read. I'm concerned his reading skills will regress more. Any help in this subject would be greatly appreciated.
Has he ever read books or has it mostly been picking out individual words? I ask because my own son started collecting sight words at 2 but struggled to read a whole book until after turning 7. It was odd the way he could read a single word easily but then mess up the same word 3 times on one page when put in sentences. In his case, we learned he had a slight visual tracking issue (which isn't unusual and resolved itself around his 7th birthday when he could instantly read any level novel easily.) Reading individual words is quite different from reading sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes there are physical issues that keep kids from progressing as you would think they should.
I would give him some time and see how things develop. Continue to read to him without putting pressure on him to read to you. It's not really "regressing" in that, he's not going to lose his skill. Focus on a continued enjoyment of books and stories and in a couple months, if things aren't improving or his attitude about books in general worsens, revisit the concern.
I believe you are correct about reading without pishing, and maybe he just needs time to sort out this phonics thing he just discovered!