Have you considered teaching your kids Latin?
When we first started homeschooling, and I heard parents talking about teaching their children Latin, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would do that. After all, isn’t it a “dead language”? Why waste our time on it?
It turns out that Latin is definitely not a waste of time . . . and I would argue that it isn’t dead either.
Our family has really struggled with teaching foreign languages. German went okay when we lived in Germany and had ample opportunity to listen and practice. Spanish was a huge challenge despite having a tutor to work with. But Latin? Latin comes together with less strife for us. We aren’t trying to jump in and have full conversations. We’re able to memorize words and learn about roots and look at the English language and see how it all fits in together. Learning Latin is about more than learning a foreign language — it’s about improving our English grammar, vocabulary, and spelling through a greater understanding of the root of our language.
Recently, I got my hands on the NEW (and improved) Latin for Children Primer A from Classical Academic Press. I am a huge fan of CAP and have been using their Writing and Rhetoric program with Bug for a few years. We’ve dabbled in Latin with their Song School Latin program as well.
There are a few things that I require from my curriculum. I need it to be easy to follow, with plenty of teacher support. I need it to be engaging enough to keep the kids from crying everytime I pull it out. And, I really really like it to be pretty. For me, the quality of the paper matters. I like white space and clean pages and pretty pictures. You can call that shallow if you want, but I figure if I am going to live and breathe curriculum for a year, it should be a pleasant experience for me.
I knew going into this review that CAP often lived up to my expectations, and I am thrilled to say that the new version of Latin for Children exceeded them in many ways.
Teaching Latin for Children
This is a workbook based program, with robust video/audio support. I personally do not have experience with Latin, so I lean heavily on the lesson videos included with this program. When we sit down to do a lesson, we start by popping the DVD in the player and I watch and practice right along with the kids.
These videos are simply but professionally produced. They feature a family who goes through the lesson chants together in their living room. I’ve heard some complaints about the quality of the previous version of these videos, but this new production has a clear picture and easy to hear audio. Then, the second part of the lesson features a male instructor at the whiteboard. The third portion of the video is a silly skit. While we watch, the kids keep their books on their lap and follow along from the text.
I find this element of the curriculum to be necessary for my family. I need to be able to hear how the chants go, see the hand gestures, and follow along with how she is teaching. We can use the audio to practice in the car or on the go, but seeing the video really makes a difference for me personally.
After the video, we move on to the worktext. The kids have looked over it during the video lesson, but we don’t bring out the pencils until after the video. We will repeat the chants and pronunciation of the words at the table after I feel like I have it down from the video.
The workbook is the biggest improvement in the new program. It’s in full color, with thick pages and quality binding. The lessons include a story, where the kids fill in words from their Latin translations. There are little history lessons, paintings to admire, fun facts alongside the text to make memorizing the vocabulary and learning the grammar fun.
During the week, we also practice our Latin by working through the Activity Book. This is an “optional” part of the program, but it’s Bug’s favorite element (and for good reason). It includes puzzles, crosswords, mazes, and other games to help with memorization of words and to keep the kids practicing throughout the week.
I am always impressed when our curriculum has elements the kids ask to do or choose to do first without me needing to remind them that it needs to be done. This book is a clear winner for us, and if you have kids who like puzzles and games, make sure you include it in your set.
The history reader is the final element of this program and contains short chapters with additional practice reading and understanding Latin words. Translating words back and forth from Latin help make memorization easier, so while this is also an optional element of the program, I would recommend it as a simple add-on for additional practice.
Latin has always intimidated me — and this is the first program I’ve seen that didn’t immediately make me feel overwhelmed or bored. I have many (many) Latin programs on my shelf, and they don’t hold a candle to this one. I love that CAP was able to take something that has a reputation for being intimidating and dry and turned it into a fun, colorful, engaging experience for my family. Of course, the real test will be to see if we are able to stick with it this school year, but I am pretty determined to work with the kids and feel that this program is a keeper for us.
This program is recommended to be taught five days a week, and while we normally do most of our school work on a block schedule (knocking out all of a subject in one longer lesson rather than five), I do feel that this one is best to be spread out throughout the week. The reason for that is that my kids remember things better when they have frequent repetition and reminders. Luckily, the workbook, activity book and reader make it easy to have something to do each day from the program.
In theory, you could use this program with just the main workbook and the audio CD . . . in theory. But, like I said, if you have the budget for it, I would recommend purchasing the full set. I’m using every element of the set consistently and feel that I need the additional teacher support from the video and the practice for the kids. The only element I don’t have are the card games — but I bet those would be fun too if you’re the card game playing kind of gal.
In a Nutshell – I highly recommend this program for anyone wanting to learn Latin without falling asleep or feeling overwhelmed. It’s worth every penny, is easy to teach, and can be done with ALL the kids at once.
A note for Secular Homeschoolers: CAP is a Christian company, and the Latin language has a long history with the church. Every Latin program I have found contains some Christian references, history, and words pertaining to religion. However, I do feel that this program would be adaptable and appropriate for homeschoolers of all faith traditions. See the samples on their website to determine if it would work for you.
Classical Academic Press is generously giving one lucky OPC reader the Latin for Children Primer A set!! Use the widget below to enter!
Don’t want to wait to win? You can save 20% with the code OPC20Latin through September 4, 2017 on any Classical Academic Press Latin Products! (If you win the giveaway after purchasing with the discount code, CAP will refund your purchase).