Monday, June 13, 2011

Looking for Latin? Latin for Children Review

I have somewhat of a checkered history with Latin programs.

My eldest was the guinea pig (aren't ALL eldest children our homeschool guinea pigs?  It's amazing they aren't scarred for life.  Or maybe they are!).  I'd get a wild hair, based on some homeschool book or article or friend or something, that I should teach my elementary student Latin, and away we'd go.

Oddly enough, it seemed that every time I started a new Latin program, I'd find I was expecting a new baby.  Not sure what's up with that, but it really happened!  Which then meant I was exhausted, and - well - Latin was the first thing to go in my schedule.

That was BEFORE Latin For Children.

Latin for Children, published by Classical Academic Press, is a three-year course designed for students in the grammar stage - roughly grades 3-6.   The course consists of a set of DVDs containing all the instruction, a CD with the Latin chants, a student text, activity book, and an optional History Reader (aka translation practice!).  

First, my disclaimer:  although I own all three levels of LFC, the nice folks at CAP sent me the updated videos for this review.  (And have been MORE than patient as I've put this on the back burner for a very, very long time.)

Second, my other disclaimer:  LFC is written for the upper-elementary student, and I do know people who've used it very successfully with those students.  For our family, however, LFC is our middle school Latin course, a precursor to high school foreign language study.  As such, I've found that my students - for the most part - have been able to work through the material with only the DVD, and haven't needed as much instruction from ye olde (and getting older!) mother.  (Note:  CAP does sell a course called Latin Alive, that is geared for the middle or high school student.  One of my friends uses it with her son for his high school foreign language requirement - she has been very, very pleased with it.)

For our family, Latin for Children is a great way to study Latin.  The pace is not overwhelming, and the DVDs are enjoyable and very clear.  I will say, however, that my kids all like the older versions better!  They prefer watching the dad (Christopher Perrin, in this case) teaching his own kids, rather than having him directly address them. 

The student books provide very clear instruction, with worksheets to practice the new content, derivative practice, memory practice, and a quiz for every chapter.  Each book has about 32 chapters, making them a nice length to complete in one academic year.  I also can't recommend the History Readers highly enough.  The practice in translation is invaluable;  one of my children really struggled at first, but the reader was very motivating, and by the end of the book that student was successfully translating - with very good accuracy - on their own.

After three years of teaching LFC to two students, I have a suspicion that - were we ever to have dinner with the Perrin family - we'd all be cracking up.  There are several jokes and references that cause me to suspect we have the same sense of (warped) humor!

Which may be why LFC appeals to my wacky bunch.  The Activity Books are laced with humorous asides, and the puzzles and games and clues to decode (using Latin, of course!) are high-interest methods of practice.  (One of my children would like to make SURE you all know that she has had it with crossword puzzles, however!)  My girls also love HeadventureLand - the free (did I mention, free??) online practice resource. 

Two notes for teachers:  first, there is a lot - a LOT - of vocabulary to learn.  I've been a little neglectful in vocab review (and I can't even blame pregnancy), and boy does it show about half-way through the book.  So do yourself - and your child - a favor, and review, review, REVIEW.   Second, CAP does not provide a set of "lesson plans" per se for LFC.  There is a suggested teaching order, which works just fine for us, but you may need to tweak a bit in order to find a rhythm that works well for your family.

Latin for Children has been a super resource for the three years of Latin study my children take in middle school.  My oldest son finished all 3 levels; middle daughter is finished with Level A, and next daughter is begging (begging, I tell you!) to start LFC in 5th grade rather than 6th.  We'll see. 

If you're looking for an engaging, thorough, easy-to-use Latin program - that will have your kids smiling and laughing their way through vocabulary and declensions (and not through gritted teeth, mind you) - Latin for Children is worth a serious look.


Christine said...

Love this review post! I have been interested in their fantastic materials for a while, now!

Jen in Al said...

thank you so much for this review! planning to take the plunge in sept. which pronunciation did you choose? any particular reason for your choice? ((hugs))jen

Heather said...

Hey Jen - I actually went with Classical pronunciation, which about KILLED me b/c I sang Latin in high school/college with Ecclesiastical pronunciation. I *think* I went with Classical b/c at the time, that was the way the DVDs were. Now, on the new set, you can watch either version - they do it both ways.

I can't remember very well, but, sadly, can't blame it on pregnant brain. Ha!