Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Latin for Children (Classical Academic Press)

The thought of teaching Latin can be intimidating.  When I decided my oldest should being studying Latin, I slaved over the decision on whether to purchase a curriculum or sign her up for an online class for about...oh, 5 minutes.  With nearly zero background in any foreign language, I simply didn't think I could do it.  Furthermore, it sounded a, dry...and I didn't *want* to teach it. She was registered for a class in no time.

While the online classes have been a good choice for my oldest, my youngest is not ready for the level offered.  Furthermore, my oldest is a language geek and my youngest, well, is not. Having control over pace is important. So once again I'm faced with the thought of teaching Latin.  However, I'm beginning to think it is doable, after having the opportunity to review Latin for Children A, Mastery Bundle by Classical Academic Press.

Latin for Children is a three-year Latin program designed for grades 3-6.  There are three levels in the program, each intended to take a year to complete.  Included in the Mastery Bundle for Primer A, the first of the levels, is:
  • Primer A - the student text and workbook
  • Primer A Answer Key - includes duplicate pages of the student text worksheets with answers in bold
  • DVDs and Chant CD - chapter-by-chapter lessons and audio CD of lesson chants
  • History Reader  - Latin stories geared toward the grammar and vocabulary being taught
  • Activity Book - games and puzzles to supplement what the student learns in each chapter
In addition to the above, there are free resources available at the website, as well as a separate website called Headventure Land where students will find games, videos, and stories to help with Latin studies.

As a busy mom, one of my biggest concerns is the amount of prep work for a lesson, especially one which I'm terrified to teach I have little experience. Latin for Children, which is geared toward the student and is taught with video lessons, has been able to check my rather huge requirement box of something that is pick-up-and-go.  This is not an intimidating program.

Each lesson has a short video presentation, in both classical or ecclesiastical pronunciation.  The video starts with chanting exercises, led by a group of children.  This portion is only a couple of minutes long.  Next, Dr. Christopher Perrin presents a grammar lesson that is anywhere from 6-10 minutes long.  This same material is presented and explained in the text.

The text is nicely laid out and each chapter has the following sections:
  • Memory Page - chapter maxim, new chant, vocabulary
  • Grammar Page - new grammar teaching from the video
  • Worksheet - reinforcement and practice of new material
  • Derivative Worksheet - derivative practice through study, define, and apply 
  • Quiz - test of new material
  • Extra Resources - usually interesting stories or related information, or an extra activity
The vocabulary consists of about 10 words a week to learn.  Over the course of the complete Latin for Children program (A, B, and C), students will have learned 720 vocabulary words and 70% of Latin grammar. There are sample pages of first several chapters of the Primer A and Activity Book available for a more detailed view.

There are a lot of things to like about this program.

-First of all, there is zero prep work.  I can simply watch the DVD with my student and am fully up to speed. Yay!

-Dr. Perrin is an excellent presenter and explains the material well.

-The DVD lessons aren't dull.  The front of the text say, "Classical Latin, Creatively Taught".  I have to agree.  The presentation will certainly appeal to elementary students and the sense of humor is quite quirky. While my 6th grader rolled his eyes during a segment of "How the West was Unus", performed by a princess, cowboy, and an assortment of other toys and action figures, I don't think he can deny he was entertained. Below you'd find a sample DVD lessons from Primer A:

-The supplemental materials are great.  The Activity Book and History Reader help add interest, and the website resources are helpful for reinforcing new material.

-I found the presentation clear and the textbook logical.  The program is very easy to follow. Additionally, it is not assumed that students will have a firm grasp of English grammar yet. The program is also integrated with Shurley Grammar.

-There is a built-in breather with a review every 5 lessons.

Potential cons:

-Kids of the more serious sort may find some of the humor annoying. The home filming fits in with the style of the DVD, but some may feel it is overly casual. I had trouble with the alternating camera shots with cameras (one on Dr. Perrin, one a close-up of the whiteboard) that had a difference in quality. Perhaps a bit picky, but it depends on the tone your student needs. To be honest, I had to get to picky to find any cons.

-It was more difficult than I expected for a 3rd-6th program and I suspect some 3rd and perhaps 4th graders will need some modification.

Latin for Children is definitely a program to consider if you will be teaching Latin in your homeschool.  What makes it most unique is the fun and quirky approach.  My son, who really had no interest in learning Latin, seemed to enjoy the program and was quite willing to work on the material, even though he commented that he found some of it difficult.  That is quite telling!

Visit the Classical Academic Press website and review the FAQ to learn more about Latin for Children and other products geared toward a Classical education.  The Latin for Children A, Mastery Bundle sells for $99.95 and the components of the package can all be purchased individually.

Read what other reviewers had to say about products from Classical Academic Press by visiting the official TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My girls are enjoying Latin for Children. I love how it is independent work for them. Great post!