When I first considered teaching Latin to my children, I wasn’t sure where to start. My oldest was only going into the fourth grade, and I knew neither he nor I were ready for a full Latin program. Having never learned Latin myself, I wanted something that would ease us both into the language. In my search, I stumbled upon Classical Academic Press’s Song School Latin. I loved the concept – simple, useful vocabulary; catchy songs; a small amount of writing. My rising fourth grader was somewhat pencil-phobic, so knowing there was minimal writing was a big plus.
I decided that it was also just the right kind of introduction to Latin for my rising second grader, also a bit pencil-phobic, but also a bit more advanced for his grade level. I ordered two student workbooks. I passed on the teacher’s guide as I figured if I didn’t know the answers at this level, I might as well throw in the Latin towel. The boys were excited to begin.
From the very first chapter, we were throwing Latin into our conversations. It may not have been completely grammatically correct and was being sprinkled into our existing English sentences, but the boys were engaged and playing with the language. My youngest son, then a preschooler, would even try to sing along with us. When I bought the workbooks, I also purchased the Monkey Match flashcard game, and I am very glad I did. All three boys and I spent many an afternoon playing Latin-English memory at the kitchen table.
The program itself is very easy to implement. We would start with reviewing the songs we had learned thus far – they are short and set to tunes already familiar to us – as well as the new song for the week. My boys have always loved music, so it was very easy to get them singing in Latin as well. Then we’d take the next few days and work slowly through the workbook pages for that lesson. There was a short grammar lesson, writing practice of the new vocabulary, typically a matching activity, often a place to color a picture of one of the new words, and fill-in-the-blank practice. Sprinkled throughout were familiar stories (for instance, the Three Little Pigs) with Latin vocabulary added in. We would only spend ten minutes or so a day; it was just enough to practice without overwhelming them or wearing them out. Of course, they never tired of pulling out Monkey Match!
It has been quite a few years since our first experience with Song School Latin. This spring, my then-second grader was asking to begin Latin. He was very excited when I ordered him his own Song School Latin workbook. And just like his brothers, it has been the perfect introduction for him. I was surprised that he had remembered some of the songs he sang with us while in preschool. Somehow both of us forgot about the Monkey Match flashcards; I realized I had hidden them from the toddler last year. They have since been found and are waiting to be played.
Song School Latin really is a wonderful introduction to Latin instruction. It is not intimidating in the least, the workbook pages are just enough for littler ones to feel they are doing a great work, and the songs help stick the vocabulary in your head. Add in the Monkey Match cards, and you will have a fantastic start to your Latin journey. Plus, who can resist the adorable Simeon the Monkey?
Brit and her husband are living this beautiful, crazy life with their three sons and one daughter in sunny California. They made the decision to homeschool when their eldest was a baby after realizing how much afterschooling they would do if they sent him to school. Brit describes their homeschooling as eclectic, literature-rich, Catholic, classical-wanna-be.