Memoria Press Review by Darla: First Form Latin

This is a no-nonsense approach to Latin. That can be a real breath of fresh air if your student is ready for serious Latin study or is a bit older. I am using this with a ten year old and an almost fourteen year old. Both are learning Latin for the first time, and both are appropriately challenged.

I wish I could say my kids love learning Latin, but that would be an exaggeration. It’s work and not really all that fun. I enjoy teaching it with this program though. Each lesson is a two-page spread in the textbook and looks deceptively simple. I recommend quizzing and reinforcing the lessons using the suggestions in the teacher’s guide because there is more here than meets the eye. Also, do not skip any part of the workbook pages. It’s not busy work.

It can’t be all bad. She’s smiling:

 

 

I sincerely appreciate that this is a program that does not attempt to entertain. It’s not what I would call “dry”, but it is business-like. They get into verb conjugations in Lesson 1, and there are ten verbs to conjugate right away. Learning Latin is work, and my kids and I are benefiting from working on it together. We have made attempts in the past, but this is the furthest we’ve gotten in the shortest period of time. This approach clearly works for us.

Memoria Press provided me with DVDs, a student textbook, a workbook, pronunciation CD, the teacher’s edition, answer keys, and flash cards. It might seem as if using both CDs and DVDs would be redundant, but they really contain different material and he goes much slower explaining the pronunciation on the CDs. Pronunciation in this program is loosely based on Ecclesiastical. All the items I received are very useful. I also purchased the wall charts at a later date.

I love how the DVD teacher explains things thoroughly. He is even a bit entertaining! My kids loved his explanation of 2nd person plural (y’all).

 

The lessons are just long enough, and the workbook pages are very well done for getting in the right amount of the right kind of practice.

I very much look forward to seeing how my kids do upon completion of First Form Latin and already plan to move at least one of them on to Second Form after this.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

by Darla

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Memoria Press Review by Tamara: First Form Latin

We used First Form Latin with my dyslexic seventh grader (thirteen years old). We had previously used several other Latin curricula, including Song School Latin, I Speak Latin, and Visual Latin. We always hit a wall a few months into our studies, as none of these programs had a solid base in grammar and conjugation. While Nate enjoyed Visual Latin greatly, it is a translation-based program. New words are given each week, then the student is asked to translate a passage. The first few lessons are amazing, and he was so excited to be reading and understanding simple Latin sentences right off the bat. But without the base of verb conjugation and sentence construction, it is difficult to advance very far. Several times we had to backtrack a few lessons and try to see where we had missed the pieces we needed to advance.

First Form Latin is not as “exciting” in the beginning, as it is more dependent on rote memorization of grammar, vocabulary, and verb forms. It doesn’t feature the quick translation of “whole language”-based Latin programs. But I have been astonished at the thoroughness and depth of his understanding of Latin, even in the short month we have been using it. More than just understanding the “what” of Latin, Nate is now understanding the “why.” For a student with dyslexia, this is very helpful. He has had to memorize many rules in reading English, as he only understands spelling by understanding the rules. Latin, and specifically a grammar-based program, seems especially suited for the dyslexic learner. Unlike English words, Latin words follow regular rules and pronunciations. Nate has been delighted to know that all he truly has to do is “sound out” the letters and they always follow logical rules of pronunciation.

First Form Latin is a very in-depth program for a junior high student. It looks deceptively easy, as the lessons only cover a couple pages and a short video. But the workbook pages require quite a bit of drilling and really help cement the conjugations in place. The flashcards were a lifesaver. We made up several games to practice vocabulary. My son really likes the teacher on the videos as well. He has a quick, dry wit and Nate really liked him.

Because of Nate’s dyslexia, memorization is more difficult for him. For this reason, we slowed down the program somewhat. The TG suggests doing one lesson per week in the following way:  M– watch video, T- read text, W- do workbook pages, Th– review, F- quiz. This was too fast for him and didn’t allow him enough drill to solidify his learning. So we modified the schedule to meet his needs. We spaced each lesson out over two weeks.  Wk 1:  M– video, T– text, WThF – worksheets (2 each day). Wk 2: MTW- flashcard drill/games/review,  Th– quiz, F- grade quiz and rewrite any missed answers.

I highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to give their child a solid foundation in Latin. In fact, I enjoyed the program so much that I purchased an extra workbook for myself and have been doing it along with my son.  It also includes diagramming sentences in Latin, so we have put a hold on our English grammar for a while and are just using the Latin grammar.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

by Tamara –  Tamara is a proud Kansas City native who was transplanted to Texas thirteen years ago. She has three boys and three girls, and is currently in her seventh year of homeschooling. Several of her children have struggled with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other learning challenges. She tells them often that God must have something amazing for them in the future, as they are learning perseverance now.

Why Classical Education? Latin as a Foundational Subject in Our Homeschool, by Cheryl

 

How I Found the Classical Method

The decision to homeschool seemed easy compared to the decision about how to homeschool. What curriculum? Boxed/all-in-one? Separate programs? If I pick separate programs, what subjects? What company do I buy from? What level? I needed some help.

For kindergarten we worked through the What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know text from the Core Knowledge Series. It provided a list of topics to cover. We found books at the library for each topic and read, and read, and read. We did a few science experiments, and we worked through a first grade math book I picked up at the grocery store.

As I fell in love with homeschooling, I started looking at what I needed to do long-term. I checked out out every book our library had on homeschooling. It seemed that every time I returned one, they had two new choices! Most of the books laid out the different philosophies/methods of homeschooling: School at Home, Charlotte Mason method, classical method, unschooling, and eclectic were the most common. I knew I did not want “school at home” and I could not unschool as I need more structure. Classical seemed too difficult for me to do on my own. I needed more information, so I started digging into books on the specific philosophies.

The first book that I really connected with was A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How To Manual by Catherine Levison. She presents Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy in a concise format. I fell in love with her methods and started to read Mason’s full homeschooling series. I loved the idea of short lessons and the subjects she laid out; also, I wanted the kids to learn multiple languages. And I could not wait to get outside with them.

It became clear to me very quickly that I needed a little more guidance and structure than Levinson’s book gave; and with two kids and a new business, I was not going to make it through all of Mason’s original works. I went back to the library and came home with two books: The Core by Leigh A. Bortins and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, both of them takes on the classical method. As I read The Core, I started to see that a classical education was what I had wanted for my kids (the Charlotte Mason method is very similar to classical). I moved on to The Well-Trained Mind, and I fell more in love with the philosophy. Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise laid out full plans to get the kids through high school. The Well-Trained Mind made classical seem doable.

I used suggestions from both books as I selected curriculum for first grade. We started with The Story of the World vol 1, Singapore Math, Rod and Staff English 2, Real Science for Kids, and Classical Conversations Foundations for memory work and an intro to Latin (we did this at home, not in a community). These programs worked so well that we have stuck with them all for three years. We have added a separate Latin program, Prima Latina and Latina Christiana, as well as a separate writing program, Institute for Excellence in Writing.

Why I Follow the Classical Method

Several ideas of the classical philosophy appealed to me: The focus on history and literature, the following of a four-year cycle for history and science, and the study of Latin. I am a horrible speller, and although I speak and write well, I don’t fully understand grammar. I also struggle when learning foreign languages. As I read about why we should study Latin, I realized that this could help my kids overcome the obstacles that held me back.

Why do we study a language that no one speaks anymore? Why study a “dead language?”

We do it because of the influence Latin has had on our language and so many others! Our study of Latin reinforces many grammar topics we study for English. The conjugation of verbs is very similar to that of French and Spanish, and the knowledge of Latin vocabulary is helping my son to understand words in the English language. Many English words have Latin roots, so understanding where the word comes from helps with spelling, meaning, and pronunciation.

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When my son asks why he has to learn Latin, I use my limited memory of French (3 years in school) and Spanish (7 years in school) to show him the similarities between the three languages. I also pick a few big words that can be broken down into their Latin roots to find the meaning of the word. Because he is interested in science, we discuss how science uses Latin, among other things, to name animals and plants.

We study Latin now, in the hopes that it will aid in learning other subjects down the road. We are already seeing the benefits of our hard work and as we learn more, we will make more connections through our other studies.

 

Cherylcheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

A New Feature at StS: Ask A Veteran Homeschooler!

 

Caitilin Fiona is an experienced homeschooling mother of six. In the coming year she will take time out of her busy schedule to answer your questions about classical home education. All topics are welcome! If Caitilin Fiona doesn’t know the answer, she’ll find it. Please submit your  “Ask Caitilin Fiona” questions on our Facebook page, Sandbox to Socrates.

Question: Do we NEED to do Latin? I can’t even get spelling done!

Answer: Well, yes and no. Of course your child can get along in the world just fine, as you yourself have likely done, with nary a word of Latin. But should he have to do so? That is a different question. There are many reasons given for studying Latin; I’m not going to re-enumerate them all here, but I will give you some things to think over.

To begin with, that spelling you’re not getting done? It will almost certainly improve with your child’s study of Latin. As he becomes more familiar with Latin vocabulary and its English derivatives, he will begin remembering that certain English words share patterns with simpler but related Latin words, and improve his spelling fluency and accuracy. He should have the opportunity to study Latin while he’s still forming his grasp on English spelling in order to give him the tool for breaking down words into their base components.

A different but related benefit will be that his spoken vocabulary will be enriched by increasing familiarity with Latin words. As we are constantly reminded, English draws a large proportion of its vocabulary, especially its higher-powered, more academic words, from Latin. By developing greater vocabulary, or as German has it, “Wortschatz” or “word treasure,” his capacity for nuanced expression will grow in proportion to the treasure he’s accumulated. Having the capacity for both nuanced understanding and competent use of words will give the student a significant advantage when he is required to write substantial academic essays–a deeper vocabulary will permit him to formulate more thoughtful ideas as he moves into the high school years and beyond.

The last thing I’d say about the value of studying Latin is this: it prepares the mind and lays groundwork for logical thought. In learning Latin, the student learns how to perceive and sort patterns into intelligible chunks, then to create from those patterns a new one of his own making. This is a skill that will become more and more useful as the student progresses though his education: algebra, geometry, formal logic, academic writing, computer programming, higher mathematics–all of these use the same kind of thought processes that a good Latin program teaches. Preparing your student’s mind for advanced academics is no small feat, but it is one which Latin makes easier.

Classical Education and the Dyslexic Child

by Sheryl

Classical Education has a reputation for being a teaching method for the gifted. It focuses on the rigorous study of things that we don’t think of as part of our everyday lives, unfamiliar things like Latin, Rhetoric, and Logic. It seems intimidating. Unfortunately, this misconception has led many parents of dyslexic children away from the method, which is truly tragic. I have found that Classical Education is, in fact, a very important part of helping my dyslexic child to overcome her learning disabilities.

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Latin

Latin is key to about 50% of our English vocabulary (Classical Education and the Homeschool by Callihan, Jones & Wilson). It is the root of understanding.

Orton-Gillingham, the premiere method of teaching reading and spelling to dyslexics, includes Latin in their materials, and their reasoning is simple: Dyslexics often struggle with dividing words into phonetic bits and then re-assembling those bits into a logical whole. Learning Latin allows students to understand the meaning of those pieces and gives them a more in-depth comprehension of words. Dyslexics, even more than the general population need to have this resource in their tool-kit.

Classical Literature

Language is a large focus of Classical Education, which may make it seem inappropriate for the dyslexic student. Children who struggle with reading are often thought of as incapable of studying great literature with all of its multi-syllable words, complicated language and levels of meaning, but we need to be careful not to confuse isolation from challenging sources with helping our students to overcome their reading struggles.

Great literature increases vocabulary, expands understanding of figurative speech, and exposes us to worlds outside of our own. It is an important window in to the world, and one from which we must not deprive our children.

Reading is necessary to any well rounded education, but this does not mean that students are restricted to only books within their reading level. Technology is a huge asset to the dyslexic student. Audiobooks, text-to-speech programs, and shared reading are all ways to experience the depth of literature outside of independent study.

One of the greatest things I have learned from Classical Education is that exceptional learning comes from exceptional sources. Of course there are a few children that will become an Autodidact, but the dyslexic child (along with most other children) will need to be guided and helped along the way. Experiencing quality literature is far more important than the method of reading. They must focus not just on their weakness, but on ways to work around that that weakness to gain great strength.

A Place to Excel

Children with learning disabilities need to be given the opportunity to find a place in which they can succeed. Many dyslexic students find this in the fine arts. Architecture, movement, and sculpture have all been found to take advantage of the spatial abilities inherent in the dyslexic’s brain. Offering our students time to study the masters and discover their own talent gives them an amazing opportunity to experience success.

The Trivium (stages of learning)

The greatest benefit of Classical Education is that it intentionally and incrementally trains students to learn for themselves. This pattern of moving through the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages is truly beneficial for dyslexic children.

Education is all about challenging children in the subjects in which they excel, and encouraging them where they struggle. Classical Education offers a great balance in this respect. It intentionally divides learning into stages of acquiring facts, connecting those facts, and then questioning and expressing what you believe. It gives our students an excellent foundation.

Parents of dyslexic students must be dedicated to diligently helping their students as they approach more difficult literature, but the benefits are exponentially greater than the sacrifice. In some ways, teachers of dyslexic students are at an advantage. When reading aloud together, deep conversations come naturally and wonderful discussions result. These discussions are the heart of the classical method.

My Reality

Dyslexia isn’t an easy learning disability to deal with. It requires diligent instruction, repetition, and effort. The rigor of Classical Education has offered my daughter not only a thorough quality education, but access to the essential tools that she needs to overcome her disability. We are still walking this path, but our goal is that she will become an adult who is not only capable of learning, but one who can actively and intentionally analyze the world around her regardless of her struggles.

Giftedness is not essential to Classical Education. What is holding you back?

Sheryl G.
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Sheryl is living her dream in the house on Liberty Hill where she is a full time wife, mother, and teacher. She is passionate about turning children’s natural curiosity into activities that will inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Learn more about her adventures at libertyhillhouse.com.