Learning to read is foremost for all first graders. If a solid foundation is laid down in the beginning, all other skills will come much easier. Phonics is a huge part of laying down that crucial foundation.
Actually a healthy blend of phonics and sight word curriculum works best. There are just some words that cannot be sounded out. Dolch Words are a good place to start. Some kids benefit from drill and repetition while others need hands-on lessons, visual stimulation, or games. If you are unsure of your child’s learning style, choose a variety of methods. That will make sure cover the most senses.