Originally Posted by sageowl
Good advice in here. I'm a teacher too, and I have to say, don't wait 'til 8! Most kids by 8 are way behind and most never catch up. It's so sad.
This might be true for kids in school, I don't know, but since my experience in homeschooling, I can tell you this is not because of the child. Many children, when given a chance can and do pick up reading at later ages and thrive. I see and hear about it frequently in homeschooling. Not so much need or pressure to be at a similar level to peers.
But, this is not about homeschooling, so I'll get to why I posted. My (homeschooled) daughter was very much a sight reader. She would read the first 2 or 3 letters and guess according to the context. She would melt when she tried to sound out something (we are unschoolers, so this was reading together, not lessons, and her tears were from her own frustration because she was choosing to try.) Her zeal to read came and went along with her level of frustration.
Two things really helped her to have patience with phonetic pronunciation. The first was learning a little Spanish. What a relief to find that "a" is always pronounced "a", "ch" was always pronounced "ch". We read some really fun English/Spanish books ("Perros! Perros!"
was her favorite.) It really gave her confidence to tackle English a bit more. English is such a bear. Reading programs try to categorize sounds as best they can, but the fact is that English still has a lot of memorization, and applying phonetics to it can be overwhelming to anyone let alone a 7yo (one recent book on the history of English spelling called modern English the most "Chinese" of Indo-European languages). Spanish helped catapult her out of her "Phonic Funk". Any rigidly phonetic language will do (like German, probably not French).
The next thing was comics, especially Garfield, which is heavy with onomatopoeia. At first, I would read the words and she loved to read the sounds like "ACK!" "AIEEEE!" "AAAARG!" and "SPLORT!" which beg to be sounded out patiently.
So, that's my homeschooling experience with a phonetic-reluctant reader. She is 8.5yo now, and reads admirably well (and, incidentally, reads Garfield all by herself), at least as well as her peers. She enjoys it, she enjoys her skills, but she does not choose to sit and read as a pastime in and of itself. It doesn't seem to be holding her back any, though. She is just not showing signs of being a voracious, recreational reader.
ETA: LOVE the game-card suggestion. DD always loved to do this, too, and would read her sister's as well, until dd2 started to read and wouldn't let her.
Ooh ooh! And third thing, almost forgot it's been so long-- secret code puzzles. Often sight-leaning readers have a hard time focussing on one letter or group of letters. These puzzles really force them to take it one at a time. Our favorite are the ones with jokes, but I would also make up phrases and puzzles at home with a simple number-letter grid. Something like, "MY FAVORITE FARM ANIMAL IS A HORSE".