Reading around the Farm

By Holly Giles | homeschooling

boys learning to read

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Learning to read can cause frustration throughout a household and within family and friend circles.  When I first began working with Grayson, he was interested in reading. However, when Grant came along, reading was the last thing on his list!
Comparison is just human nature. But as homeschool moms become wiser through trial and error. We realize, that each child has their own time clock for reading, and pushing them will end badly!

I have spent many days in tears. Grant has been in tears. I finally decided to give up reading lessons.  Forget it!  I can’t take it!  I put away the books and just concentrated on playing with him and reading to him.  Low and behold, when he was ready, he began reading words I never taught him, and excelling way beyond where I thought he would be!


I met a mom recently, who was new to homeschooling, and anxious about her journey ahead.  She said she was concerned that her four-year-old boy was not reading like the other kids in their playgroup.

Let the four-year-old PLAY!! Read to HIM.

I had a great conversation with her about the freedom homeschooling allows us to let our children develop in their own time, but when you are new, you compare. By allowing Grant to mature in his own time, he went from not reading to second grade reading within a year. He is happier and enjoys reading now, on his own terms.



When I decided to incorporate something with structure, I turned to Learning Language Arts Through Literature. Its simplicity and ease of use can keep us on track in the busiest of weeks. I love coloring pages, shiny crafts, and lots of frills.  However this season of my life is too overwhelming, and then the frustration sets in. Learning Language Arts Through Literature is no-frills, and that is alright.  It has been written to systematically reinforce phonics and reading abilities in little chunks. It has proven successful in both my children.

I have invested in shiny and frilly, and when Grayson was young, I had the time to devote to it. However, at this stage, we have so many irons in the fire, that extra frills don’t fit in.

I  am raising two boys and although they love a good craft, all my color printing and cute ideas are lost on them.  Grant does love to cut, which is good for his fine motor, and LLATL provides just enough to enjoy it.
boys enjoy tactile activities to learn to read


The book for second grade starts out with stories from a farm. So, I set up a barn and all the animals on a side table for Grant to play with while I read Grayson’s books.  As I watched him play, I saw how I could use that farm set to reinforce words and sounds. I wrote out each animal and tool on paper and had him match them up. For instance, associating the written word with the object is like a photograph in your brain.
using toys to teach reading and math

Similarly, simple math concepts can also come into play here on the farm.  How many piglets does mama pig have?  If one got out of the pen, how many are left?

teaching boys to read with toys
Along with the LLATL, I have Grant working on his writing with the Draw Write Now books.  The first one happens to be all about a farm.  There are four sentences to write along with step-by-step instructions on how to draw the object.  I have him do this about twice a week, and it really is amazing how much his writing skills and drawing have improved.
reading around the farm boys learning to read

Trial and error

I am a firm believer in play and using it to learn.  In all my trials and errors over the years in homeschooling, this is the lesson I learn over and over again.  Finding the curriculum that fits your family, and allows for success and not distress is the key to integrating learning into your family’s lifestyle.
Sometimes less is more in our child’s lessons.  The wonderful part of schooling our children at home is individualized education.  We often get busy. Moreover, we try to have all our children doing the same books for simplicity on us moms.  If you are having a struggle, step back and look at the child.  What can we take away or add to their learning?
  Children need to feel successful and that will promote further learning.  Success can be measured in many ways, and will most likely be different for each child.  When you find what works for them, it brings a better flow for the day, week, and month.
Go dig through the toy box and find what sparks your child.  Put down the vacuum and get on the floor with them for a while, the dirt will still be there later……..
Visit our store with many options for literature and nature study
learn to read


About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.

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