I have worked as a reading specialist for several years -- helping struggling students learn how to become motivated and strategic readers. The good news is: your child is doing exactly what he should be doing at this stage in the game.
Don't fall into the trap of comparing your child to others. We ALL learn at different rates and in different ways and that is what makes each of us wonderfully unique and special. Your child may also just happen to be in a class where students are "getting it" very quickly. Even though he is right on target, being in this classroom might give others the false impression that he is falling behind.
In my experience, MOST kindergartners start reading very simple pattern books (I see a red balloon. I see a yellow balloon. Etc.) by the END of the school year. The fact that he is already picking up a few sight words in January is GREAT!
Don't get too hung up on phonics and sounding it out, though. Good readers use way more than just letters and sounds to help them figure out unknown words. Good readers read for MEANING, or to understand the author's message.
I concur with previous posters who recommend reading to and with your child. I would also add that this shared reading is the perfect opportunity to help your child start thinking strategically.
When a good reader picks up a book about the zoo, for instance, he is already getting his brain thinking about zoo animals. When he sees a monkey in the book with a lady's hat, he is wondering where the monkey might have gotten it from. Perhaps the monkey stole it from someone? Or maybe it was a gift from the kindly zookeeper.... This is strategic thinking and the "magic" that many children are discovering about reading at this age. We read to understand the author's point of view and then we have a dialogue (by ourself or with others, if we're lucky) about what WE think about the author's ideas and the new questions and ideas that arise out of THAT discussion or remind us of another book or our own trip to the zoo and so on.
To reduce this type of thinking down to ddd -- ooo -- ggg not only takes away the magic, but it gives children a false sense of what reading is all about. It also makes reading even more difficult because you are taking away the meaningful context that strategic readers require. It is like asking someone to sit on a chair where you have taken away all but one of the chair legs!
Of course, we look at the letters for clues but these need to be matched up with many other clues to read efficiently and accurately, such as:
- what do the pictures tell us,
what do we already know about the zoo through our own experience,
what do we know about how fiction stories are organized, and,
how might we say this using proper English syntax?
1. Don't worry. I see no indications of LD in your child (it is very difficult to accurately test for LD at this age because he is so young)
2. Your child is doing a GREAT job! He has learned his name, letters, sounds and even a few sight words -- BRAVO!
3. Don't overemphasize "sounding it out;" it's not helpful.
4. Make reading with your child as fun, engaging, and thought-provoking as you can.
He will discover the magic of reading soon enough!