Phonics and Football
Phonics is like football.
You need a lot of drills to build your skills.
Reading is like football. Both are complex processes built on basic skills. Anti-phonics voices lament the drill-and-kill and repetition of phonics. However, a good football player knows the importance of the basic drills and their repetition.
Even pro football players run hundreds of drills to improve their skills. While they also play practice football games, they know that you improve through mastery of basic skills learned in rote drills. Whole word methods or whole language methods are like playing hundreds of practice football games without learning how to throw the ball or run a pass pattern.
Reading is the same way. A remedial student needs to learn in a different way than a new student. Whole word methods or even more than 5 sight words in a phonics program teach a student bad habits. They are taught to look at the whole word and guess, instead of sounding out a word from left to right. This induces dyslexia and hinders the development of correct eye movement during reading. Remedial reading students need to unlearn bad habits and learn new good habits.