Kid's can learn of the above mentioned strategies simultaneously. When we teach kids to recognize words by their shape, we teach them site words. Some whole words are considered "sight words"--words that you don't usually use letter sounds to figure out. The word 'the' is a great example of a site word. The word 'the' starts with the /th/ sound. Beginning readers usually don't have any understanding of how the 'th' spelling makes a sound like /th/. As it turns out, kids can recognize the word 'the' even if they don't have a grasp of the letter sound in it.
I’m a K teacher and it seems that you are more interested in blaming his former teacher for where he is in his development more than anything else. Since this is a whole year later….I’m sure that he has picked up reading. However, I just want to say as an educator of 15 years who has a reading specialist endorsement, that reading is developmental—and each child is in a different part of that developmental process. As a parent, you are truly your child’s first teacher. Please revaluate pointing the finger at the teacher–as I’m sure that there was learning taking place in his classroom after all!
In other words, reading Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is an incredibly complex task that requires significant understanding beyond just being able to sound out words. It's based as much on a knowledge of how the world works as it is on how language works. So even though a toddler or a preschooler may not be ready to translate letters into phonemes into words, she is able to start gaining the contextual grounding that will allow her to give those words meaning. "From birth forward, children are becoming readers and writers," says Cox. "Their listening, drawing, early wordplay, pretend reading, storytelling, and scribbling all set the stage for reading excellence and a love of books and writing later on."