I have a new reading student, and my first boy since I've started tutoring - we'll call him D. D is 7 and just finished 1st grade - and he is NOT taking well to the way his school is teaching reading. His mom says that sight words completely confuse him and he can't keep up with what's expected when they read, and HE says he's stupid because of this.
I was pleasantly surprised, when I did some beginning activities with him to see how much he knew, to discover that he is plenty smart and has many of the skills needed for reading. We're at a much further-along starting point that I thought we'd be. I anticipate that this will be a summer-only partnership and he will be reading normally by the time school starts. He's fascinating to me because he completely embodies my theories on the negative effect that a focus on sight-words can have on beginning readers!
Today we were playing with my foam alphabet letters and talking about different vowel teams (I really like the foam letters because its gives me a focal point for trying to demonstrate a concept on the fly.) I let him mess with the letters while I was arranging words, because (a) sometimes he makes his own words, and (b) sometimes kids need something to do with their hands while their minds are hard at work!
At one point I looked up and this is what I saw. You can't look at that and say this kid isn't plenty smart!!! I'm really excited about working with him this summer. :)