Saturday, May 19, 2012

Latin For Children

Last year, 2nd grade, Jay started Latin for Children Primer A. We are taking it a little slow, as we focus on mastery. I am not of the mind that exposure is all that is important at this age and mastery can come later. For us, mastery is important. My kids would not work well with the 'exposure is all that's important' mindset. If they don't see a real reason to do something, they won't do it. Between the focus on mastery and the fact that there were some weeks we didn't do Latin, we didn't finish the whole level by the end of 2nd grade. So, he is still in Primer A. We have purchased Primer B, which he will start as soon as he is done with A.

Apparently, this program does not have enough practice for some. Some people have created extra worksheets, which are available free on the publisher site. I've heard people complain that even with those free worksheets, the activity book, and the DVD lessons, there still is not enough practice. I don't find that to be true. If we need extra time to master the words in a chapter, we spend an extra week on that chapter, but have never needed extra materials. Though, I am not saying that those who need more practice are wrong. I'm simply saying it is not universal. There are some who don't need extra materials to master the content. So, I thought I'd outline how we use this program, for anyone who is considering it and is concerned about the complaints of not enough practice.

Now, first I should say that we get the Mastery Bundle. This comes with the Worktext, the Activity Book, the DVD lessons, CDs with the chants, and History Reader.

First we watch the entire DVD lesson. We will run through the chant more than once, especially if he seems to be struggling with pronunciation. Then, he does his pages of work. He does not have to do the pages in the Activity Book, unless he struggles with the chapter and we spend an extra week on the chapter. He almost always chooses to do all the pages in the Activity book, though. He does two pages from either the Worktext, Activity Book, or one from each.

Tuesday - Thursday:
We watch the DVD lesson again. We usually just watch the chants, only watching the Grammar section again once, unless he wants to or is struggling with the concept. He does his two pages of work.

We watch the DVD lesson again, usually just the chants, only watching the Grammar section if he wants or needs to. He does his two pages of work. We do a chapter of the History Reader on the whiteboard.

He visits HeadventureLand whenever he wants, for fun practice. The kids listen to the CDs whenever they want. We don't use the free pages available from the publisher site. We don't use the Clash Cards. We don't make tons of extra sheets of practice. I am considering making some Latin Bingo boards for the chapters he chooses not to do all the Activity Book pages and the chapters with which he struggles. Really though, what comes from the publisher is enough for him to master the concepts & vocab. When we do the History Reader, he parses and translates each word, and tells me the order the words would be arranged to make the most sense in English (word order is not important in Latin sentences). So, I know that he really is learning & retaining the info.

Whether or not this program offers enough practice will depend on the child and on how you use it. It is possible, though, for a child to master the material with what they offer.

Now, I must say that I do really like this program. The chants make the vocab & declensions easier to remember. Between the Worktext & Activity Book, we find there is plenty of practice. I particularly like the pages that have them looking up derivatives, because that really makes them focus on the fact that many words have Latin origins. This helps to show its usefulness, which gives my son more reason to do it. I appreciate the way it teaches. It doesn't focus on just Grammar or just Vocabulary, it includes both. There are no boring rote drills and no busywork. The DVDs and CDs add an extra element to the program. It's nice to have a program that isn't just book work, especially when it comes to pronunciation. Since Latin wasn't an option for me when I was in school, I don't have a background in it and wouldn't be able to teach my son proper pronunciation. Honestly, I wish that I had found this program when my daughter was younger. Maybe if she had used this program, she wouldn't fight me so much about learning Latin.