Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Latin in First Grade? Let's Go!

I've spent the past few months getting to review different pieces of homeschool curriculum, and it's been so eye-opening as to the depth of what is out there. There is so much out there. It's amazing.

One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to go beyond what some schools have the bandwidth the tackle. When I was teaching, one of the magnet programs in that town was billed as a "classical" elementary school. Beyond the basics, the students were instructed in French and Latin. I was fascinated, and slightly envious that the students I was teaching weren't getting that opportunity. So, when this review came up, I excitedly signed up to review Prima Latina Complete Set from Memoria Press.

Memoria Press

Prima Latina is intended for students who are reading confidently, usually around first to third grade. There are other program by Memoria Press, for other grade levels:

Prima Latina Complete Set

This set included:
  • The student workbook (consumable, and therefore must be purchased for each student, but inexpensive enough that I don’t see this as a barrier to using this with my younger son in a few years)
  • The teacher manual with all the workbook answers
  • Flashcards (labeled for both Prima Latina and Latin Christiana, so this would only need to be purchased once for all of elementary school)
  • The instructional DVD (each lesson is about 15 minutes)
  • The instructional CD
Madison is a fairly confident reader for first grade, so she was a great fit for this program. It would also work for a slightly older Latin beginner. The program is gentle and relaxed, so even though the material is unfamiliar, it isn't intimidating - even for the parent, who, in my case, hasn't taken Latin since tenth grade when she heard it would help her on the SATs. I remember very little.

So the DVD is the key to this curriculum. Leigh Lowe is truly your child’s teacher, and you are a classmate and facilitator. The workbook has a page for each lesson so your child can follow along with her lesson, but the lessons won’t make sense without her explanation on the DVD. Leigh adds so much cultural description and enunciation to each lesson that the DVD is a requirement to hold this all together.

Teacher lesson

Student page

Prima Latina contains 26 lessons, so in theory, it’s a one year curriculum, each lesson being spread throughout a week, with the potential to take longer if life requires it. Right now, we school primarily three days a week, so we’ve been watching the video on Mondays and working on the workbook on Wednesdays and Fridays. There were a few weeks where we had co-op on Wednesday and a class on Friday, so we took two weeks on a Latin lesson. It’s up to you how fast to work through this, and like any homeschool curriculum that’s not laid out in a daily format (like math or phonics), it’s important to keep the big picture in mind and pace yourself accordingly. The CD is used for the workbook lessons – it's as crucial as the DVD. Every week there’s a section that requires listening to the CD as a way to reinforce the enunciation.

This curriculum, beyond setting a good foundation, has helped Madison in her reading and grammar. By the end of this first grade year, she knows nouns and verbs, but learning Latin grammar reinforces those lessons, as well as builds on them. Learning basic Latin vocabulary has helped her with some unfamiliar words she's come across in her pleasure reading books. Thinking back, I can't imagine waiting until high school to reap these benefits.

There's so much good in this program that I hesitate to mention this last piece. Honestly, it's not a negative, but it is worth mentioning. I try to keep our homeschool curriculum pretty secular. The girls get the bulk of their religious education as any non-homeschooled children do - at church, reinforced at home of course, but mostly from Sunday school. Classical homeschooling tends to have a religious slant, and this program follows that trend. Latin was the language of the early church, so it does make sense that the program would include prayers. In my case, as a singer, I've found religious Latin very helpful. So this isn't a huge issue for us, but again, it does bear mentioning because I know many other homeschoolers who want a truly secular curriculum.

Overall, we'll continue with this program, and I'll definitely be purchasing another student workbook once Reagan is ready to join us!

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}

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