My son who has developmental delays that go along with his special needs is now 12. We first started on this "learning to read journey"six years ago. It has been a journey full of mountains and curves. I have used everything and anything to help him learn to read. One of the most useful things we did early on is teach him sight words. Sight words are the most frequently used words in the English language. Learning to recognize and read sight words will help your child read more fluently and help them be more confident about their reading. Many of the words on the Dolch list are not words you can sound out phonetically. If you think about it we all use memorization of words as adults to read. We do not sound each word out anymore, (unless it is an unfamiliar word) but instead, just know the words from seeing them repeatedly.
Don't get me wrong I still put a lot of value on learning to read phonetically, but especially with a child who has delays, it is invaluable to initially teach them some key words with flashcards, sight word books (my kids liked the Bob books especially!) and also with games.
Here is a site that has the complete list of the dolch sight words. This site also lets you make flash cards for your child and plugs the words into the games at the site. Another thing you can do with kids that have mastered the basic list of sight words is to make a list of the words they consistently have problems with when they are reading you a book. Spelling City lets you make your own list of such words. Recently I scheduled our annual homeschool testing (eeeeek! ) to take place in June. We are taking spring break this next week but the two months we will have before testing I am going to take A~man's "trouble words" from his books and make a list to practice with. We may even review the basic words although he pretty much knows all of them.
Reading is one of the most important things (scholastically speaking) you can teach your child. It creates the opportunity for a life long of learning plus the pure joy of reading for pleasure.