When I was a little girl, I learned to read by sight words. Dick and Jane was all the rage. When I entered third grade at a different school, they expected me to know phonics. I was so upset that I didn’t know what they were talking about. I was a great reader, but didn’t have a background in phonics. I had to catch up in a hurry in order to complete my worksheets correctly.
Since reading is a vital skill and a necessary component of learning other subject matters, repeated practice is necessary. A healthy blend of phonics and sight words seems to work for most kids.