A friend of mine helps run a Montessori school and he had this to say about reading:

“Unfortunately, our English language is not the easiest to learn to read and write. There are seemingly so many arbitrary ways to spell words that many teachers describe English as a chaotic mess. It is for this reason that an organized, step-by-step approach is needed. Failure in the early stages of teaching a child how to read can leave him so confused and discouraged that he gives up trying, making it much, much harder to correct later.

Compounding this is the fact that teachers (quite astoundingly given its importance) receive almost no instruction in how to teach reading when they go to Teachers’ College. Without proper instruction themselves, it is little wonder that so many of them consider English spelling rules confusing and thus have so much difficulty teaching reading. But a proper examination of our language reveals many repeating patterns and consistencies, and there ARE ways to teach reading properly. Given the large numbers of students entering our high schools and universities with poor reading and writing skills, these methods are apparently not very well known or used.”

I feel the earlier your child is exposed to reading the better, nothing lights up the imagination like a good book!