I recently learned that Waldorf Schools don't recommend teaching children how to read until age 7! At first, I thought this was ridiculous, but after learning about how the written word (as opposed to spoken language) affects cognitive development (and the development of entire societies) I am starting to think they might be on to something.
I'm planning on researching this topic further, but here's an article with some insight on their point of view...
Learning to Read & Write in Waldorf Schools
Is it possible that the cultural pressure to teach children to read earlier and earlier promoted in our monolithic school system is misguided by requiring of the child’s lively, intuitive consciousness an inappropriate degree of abstraction too soon? Could linguistic intelligence actually be retarded by leaving the riches of the oral tradition prematurely? Are the outcomes based goals and behaviorist procedures for achieving the ability to read at an early age well supported by developmental research? Is it wise to get on with the program as quickly as possible, with four and five year olds taking home worksheets from kindergarten? Should we then measure through testing the children’s reading progress (disregarding the wide variation of individual developmental differences) and hold teachers accountable for improving test scores? Logically in this approach more resources and skill development time (“drill and kill”) would be devoted to those children below agreed upon benchmarks, targeting exactly their weakness. The result of this paradigm is that whirlwinds of anxiety, stress, feelings of failure, and avoidance behavior rise from the current system meant to address national goals and standards without an understanding of where young children are in their development.