The belief that we are critically harming a child if they are not not 'taught' to read in the first couple of years is to me, very flawed when you look at progress from a developmental perspective. The idea that if we are not 'directly instructing' them in reading from the day they enter school we are hindering their progress is a in my opinion scaremongering. If a child is not developmentally ready to read or write and we apply direct instruction in literacy, we are likely to be doing more harm than good. A child's brain does not stagnate if we are not 'directly instructing' them, the brain will constantly be stimulated in a rich environment and because children have a natural drive to learn, they are developing new understandings constantly.
In fact if we use developmental readiness and interest as our guide and provide quality exposure to the early building blocks of literacy, they will make progress when they are ready. Yes there are children with learning difficulties, but we are not doing those children any favours by engaging early either. To put the cat amongst the pigeons, I think in some cases, our forcing of cognitive learning on a child that is not ready for it, could cause later difficulties for many.
I am not saying we don't teach, what I am saying is that we need know when it is appropriate to do so. With these factors in mind I have been giving a lot of thought to my classroom this term...how do I know when they are ready for more, and what is it that I need to be doing.