First of all, pat yourself on the back for doing all you can to get your son ready for kindergarten! Great job! When to start working with sight words is different for every child.
Before getting started on words, make sure he knows his upper case and lower case letters. While you're at it, you could work on identifying numbers 1 to 10, too.
Then, you'll want to start teaching him the sounds that each letter makes. Jumping right in to sight words can be confusing if your child doesn't understand the sounds that go along with each letter. You can practice that skill easily with the same alphabet flashcards you've probably been practicing with. Just hold one up and say, "What sound does this letter make?" Same flashcards, just a different question!
After you feel that he's gotten a good handle on the sounds, then it's probably time to start with some easy sight words. I'm attaching a link to some of the words that are most used in kindergarten. The link even has a printable sheet that you can cut for flashcards.
And of course, throughout it all keep reading to him his favorite stories, so he can see those words in action!
Best of luck and again, great job on giving him the head start he needs!
JennBeisel - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
I would like to answer this from a different viewpoint than the professional that answered before me. I am a mom of three and would say YOU, and this holds true after your child enters school, and only YOU are responsible to keep your child learning how to read first. Teachers are great; however, you keep your child moving beyond the expectation and most kids without dyslexia or other language learning issues are able to read and comprehend well beyond their peers.
Before kindergarten your child should be able to identify all lower and uppercase letters and their sounds. Sight words come with exposure to reading. With respect to vowels, your child should know the short sounds first. From this, your child should be able to start blending.
There are many educational enrichments out there to help your child to read. I would encourage you, for not much money to buy the abeka home school program and continue to use this as your child enters school. It's the most comprehensive phonics program out there. For not much money you will have blessed your child to the exposure to classics and a phonics approached untouched by the current public/public school approaches.
A second to abeka is hooked on phonics. If your child knows their letter sounds start using the first program, even if it's too easy, and keep moving forward after your child enters school as this will get your child over the hump of the 1st month of school when most teachers are assessing rather than teaching. Thus, your child is still learning and having exposure to daily reading. Keep this up over the summer!
I can't understate the importance of parental involvement. My first is dyslexic. I bought the hooked on phonics deluxe version in 1998. I still use this on my second and third child. It works!!! My first took a great deal of effort from me; however, my two others without dyslexia used this program to keep them learning those letter sounds , sight words and word families. My youngest will enter K next year and she reads. Naturally a part of reading is learning those words that don't follow phonic rules and she knows this and has learned may sight words.
I'm new to the site, and just thought I'd get started participating by answering this question. In my personal experience, my daughter, who is four now, picked up on the sight words by observation, looking at and listening to the stories that I read to her. So before I actively decided to start teaching her to read, she already knew many of the sight words kind of through osmosis. There are some kids who will simply just pick up on those words very quickly just from tuning into the stories that are read to them and looking at the signs and words that they see in their environment on a regular basis. Because my daughter learned that way, I then started working with her on understanding what sounds all of the letters make, and also working on capital and lowercase letters. At this point, she can read simple "emergent reader" books on her own, for the most part, and we have also started working on vowel sounds.
...or see the computer version of the program at funnix.com
I used the book with all 4 of my kids with great results.
My youngest started with this program early at about 3 years old. He is now in kindergarten and is borrowing books from the 2nd grade library. This program works.
As for teaching young kids the alphabet...I never really had to teach my youngest son the alphabet...we had already started with the Engelmann book which starts out by teaching sound of letters... and when we were part way through the program my son happened to see 1 or 2 episodes of SuperWhy or Word World and after that he knew the names of the letters of the alphabet. Kids learn so fast when it looks interesting and the pace is fast enough.
I found starfall.com to be a fun way for my son to learn the letter sounds and sight words, even what they offer for free. He was really interested, so I worked with him a lot. We started sight words at 3. Now he's 4 and can read at a first grade level. Reading to them everyday really is important to get them ready and create interest.
I suggest doing what you can to keep him interested and enjoying it, and pay attention to figure out what he is capable of, and what he enjoys.