Sight Word Reading

by Carol Chandler-Wood


I just saw your article on reading in the current issue of "Our Town" and was wondering if you could solve a debate in our household.  Our son is 4 and has very poor auditory processing.  He is also developmentally delayed in all areas (receives PT, OT, and ST therapies).  Sometimes when my husband reads to him, he says one word at a time and has him repeat; page after page.  Is there any benefit to this?

C. S.


Thank you for your email.  In reply, if your son is developmentally ready to read from a cognitive perspective, then your husband pronouncing whole words at a time and having him read them back could increase his sight-word memorization.  Individuals with auditory processing difficulties do not typically rely on a phonics based approach to build their reading recognition due to their lack of ability to "hear" the various sounds which letters represent.  A sight word memorization approach can be very beneficial.  If your son is not developmentally ready to read, my recommendation at this time in his life is to read to him using much enunciation and voice inflection based on the content of what is being read.  Your son will learn much about the rate and rhythm of reading and will likely model his own reading after yours.  Plus, reading out loud to him is a wonderful opportunity for bonding, as it will be one of his fondest memories of your time together! Your husband or you might also want to use your finger or a straight edge and track the words as you read them.  Doing so will reinforce that what your are saying out loud has an associated word. When your son is developmentally ready to read, he will begin to attempt to read words to you.  He will realize that letters have associated sounds, and when letters are strung together, they form words.  And, words represent people, places, things, and action.  Then you all can begin to take turns reading paragraphs.  Be careful to not drill him too hard at home because doing so may cause him to dislike reading.  Additionally, no child wants to disappoint their parents.  Based on my professional and personal experience, most children view their parents as "mom and dad", not in the role of teacher.  It can be a tricky balancing act!

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