Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin for Children - TOS

If you have looked at the About Me section to the right, you will know that I am a long time homeschooler who is always looking for great curriculum.  Usually I have to modify curriculum to work for my family, but every now and again, I stumble upon a product that is perfect just the way it is.  Latin for Children by Classical Academic Press is my latest find.

I will start off by saying, I know no Latin.  I took French in high school.  While I always like to learn new things, in practicality, I don't really have the time to take on an entirely new subject just for the heck of it.  Dragonette chose Spanish for her language and I am able to farm her out into classes fairly easily.  But Flower is my science child and when she learned that Latin is the language of science, she decided that was the language for her. Period.

Most places do not start teaching Latin until high school.  And many Latin curricula out there assume the teacher has Latin experience.  We run into this kind of problem fairly often, where the curriculum does not want to be thorough enough to teach, and when it tries, it is so watered down that it is nearly worthless to us.

I am very impressed with how much information is covered in each lesson of Latin for Children.  Not only is it not watered down, but it is designed for kids to do on their own with no help needed from mom.  And it is repetitive enough to cement the language, but that repetitiveness is so well hidden in the fun activities that I never ever hear "we already did this!"

The first decision we had to make was Ecclesiastical or Classical pronunciation.  Each is explained and available to listen to on the DVD's and CD's that came with the set we received.  I let Flower make the choice and she chose Classical because Dr. Perrin explained Classical pronunciation is used most in high school and college classes.

From the first lesson, verbs are conjugated and verb tenses, nouns, and the Latin roots of English are introduced.  Singular and plural come up in lesson two and lesson three covers noun declensions. Lesson four covers case and by lesson five you are reviewing ten verbs, thirty nouns, and derivatives.  By chapter 15 you add in the history reader for practice in reading Latin.  After completing Primer A, your child has learned 240 of the most frequently occurring words in Latin
Let me just say right here, Classical Academic Press, the makers of Latin for Children, gets it.  They take a hard subject, jump right in, and teach.  It is rigorous.  It is fun.  The kid loves it.  And Mom doesn't have to do a thing.

A few people have made comments to me about why bother to learn Latin since it is considered a dead language.  As I said, the original reason Flower become interested was Latin's use in science.  I was interested because I knew it would help with vocabulary words, and since she is a visual learner, the more pictures she could create the stronger her vocabulary would become.  But what I didn't expect was the amount of grammar terms and uses she would learn.  Since we have not done a lot of formal grammar past nouns, verb, adjectives and adverbs, this was a most welcome side effect of Latin.   I think she will have a much easier time with English grammar.

Included in the Mastery Bundle is:
  • a softbound textbook that is made to be written in
  • a softbound activity book with games and puzzles that is also made to be written in
  • an answer key for the text book (activity book has the answers in the back)
  • a Latin History Reader (corresponds with lessons starting at about Chapter 15)
  • 3 DVD's and 2 chant CD's (starring Dr. Christopher Parrin and a group of kids)
We worked out a schedule that allows Flower to complete a chapter a week.  There are 32 chapters, so even with breaks, she can complete Primer A in one year.

 - watch DVD
 - read first two text pages
 - start text worksheets

 - finish text worksheets
 - start pages in Activity Book

 - finish Activity pages

 - do Quiz in Text

The chants that are introduced on the DVD are also on the CD.  Flower listens to the chant CD whenever she has a chance, so I didn't put them on the schedule.  This schedule has worked well for her and she always willingly sits down to do Latin.

After Primer A, Flower will be able to continue in Latin using Primer B and Primer C.  And I don't have to worry about this subject for about 2 more years!

Classical Academic Press also has products for Greek and Spanish in their "for Children" line. which is marketed for 3rd to 5th grade.  Older children would also enjoy this line, if Dragonette is to be believed.  Even as an 8th grader, Dragonette is a bit jealous of all the puzzles and games that Flower gets to do.

If you think your child is a bit old or even a bit young for the "for Children" line, Classical Academic Press also offers Song School Latin and Song School Greek for kids K-2 and Latin Alive for kids 6th-12th grade.

Classical Academic Press doesn't stop here.  On their website, they have an entire free area for kids devoted to videos, stories, and games to help with retention called Headventure Land.  On the Free Page they have errata posted, along with flash cards, free mp3's, coloring pages, and articles to help you make good choices for your family.

The homeschooling world has a lot of curriculum options for Christian homeschoolers.  But I have friends that are Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist, and they have a hard time finding curriculum that they feel is appropriate for their children.  As a Christian, I even have trouble with a lot of curriculum out there, as it becomes more of a preaching tool than a teaching tool.  But I am happy to say, at least in the Latin for Children Primer A, the only biblical references I have seen have treated the Bible as a piece of literature, quoted like any other book.  I would feel good about recommending this curriculum to non-Christians.

You can buy Latin for Children by the piece, in a Basic Bundle for $76.95 (text, answers and DVD/CD set) or as a Mastery Bundle for $99.95.  I recommend the Mastery Bundle, because it includes not only the pieces in the Basic Bundle, but the pieces that make this program so fun (activity book and reader).

Samples for each component are available on the website.  Just click on each individual piece to find the sample link.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

English Is Not My First Langauge

I was born in America and attended school in a Midwest farming community.  My parents and their parents and on and so forth for generations were born in the United States.  My genetic makeup includes ancestors from England, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and two of my grandmas from way back were American Indians from different tribes.  Professions and class structures of my ancestors are as varied as a mayor, an indentured servant, and a family of pioneers that battled with Native Americans over land in Pennsylvania.

I am about as red-blooded American as you can get.  And I am Yankee to boot.  But English is not my first language.

I have to translate every word and sound that comes into my ears into my native tongue and re-translate to give you an answer in English.  And I didn't even know I was doing it, or better yet, that everyone else didn't do it, until I was in my 30's.

I am a visual learner.  That means I think in Pictures.  Every word I hear has an associated image.  So every time a word goes into my ear, I have to translate it into my native tongue, Pictures.  For me to relay a word back to you, I have to form an image, find its matching English word, and then speak.

Sometime I can do this quickly without a lot of conscious thought, because some words and phrases are used so often in English.  But when I am tired or uncomfortable, such as in a room full of people, the translation slows to a crawl and I find it so much easier to remain silent.  Math is difficult because my images often do not apply to a math setting.  Analyzing literature is an agony of words, words, words without a lot of meaning (aka pictures).  Let's not even discuss spelling and the idiosyncrasies of the English language.

Instead, I have developed my own arsenal of skills. 

I can manipulate images in my head and go back to just about anywhere I have ever visited once, from only memory.  Drawing blueprints from any angle is easy and I can pack a car more efficiently than anyone else in the house.  I can often eyeball a measurement, whether for building or cooking, and be dead on.

My husband, however, is a native English speaker.  Frustration used to reign supreme in our house whenever we would work on a project together.  How could he not see what I meant!  And one day, I discovered that was the problem.  He really could not see what I meant.

The day I discovered English was not my native language was a wonderful day.  It was the day I started to really understand who I was.

Today, my husband and I work well together.  I draw the pictures he talks about, and we work at it till Pictures and English are precisely aligned.  He now understands my need to say things a variety of ways until my English matches his English, and he is more than patient in repeating something until I have fully translated it.  I understand why he cannot always understand my English and why illustrations are so invaluable in our communications.  He is no longer self-conscious about delving into writing Pictures for me and doesn't tune me out when I need to talk a problem out in English.

Dragonette is an amazing hybrid and is a native speaker of English and Pictures although some subjects go over better in one language than another.  Flower is definitely a native Picture speaker, so I have worked hard to help her become a nearly native speaker of English too, so she doesn't repeat the learning curve her mother had to endure.

I spent so many years thinking there was something wrong with me because I could not think on my feet, but I realize now that I was trying to do the wrong kind of thinking on my feet.  If only I had know that Pictures, not English, was my first language, I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and dents to my self-esteem.