I know that after reading my last post reviewing The Latin-Centered Curriculum many readersprobably reacted with surprise. “Latin? For Kindergarten? Seriously?”
The reason I’m starting Latin so early (although it’s not early by historic standards) has to do with the reason I want the children to learn Latin in the first place. You’ve probably read the stats – half of English words have Latin roots, 80% of Romance languages like Spanish and French stem from Latin, kids who study Latin do much better on the SAT, and so forth. Certainly learning vocabulary roots is a great by-product of Latin. However, what really attracts me to ancient language study is the intellectual training it offers. Studying a complex but logically structured language like Latin increases a child’s ability to reason, problem solve, and think, read, and speak clearly and precisely. It teaches them to be analytical and logical and deepens their understanding of all grammars as well as preparing them to learn modern languages more quickly and easily later on. (For more on why you might want to study Latin, here is a good article, or read this longer collection of articles, or read The Latin Centered Curriculum or Climbing Parnassus)
Actually we’ve been doing Latin in preschool too, using Song School Latin, which was recommended to me by blog reader Anna L. The book and CD set are quite reasonably priced on Amazon ($15.61 at the moment) and I’d say the program is a very good primer level for primary grades. Depending on how much of the written work you want to do you could certainly use it with older elementary students, but I’ve used it for Hannah and Jack (Hannah just turned 5 and Jack is 3) this year doing the exercises orally and they’ve done great. Even Sarah (2) gets in on it.
Each lesson introduces a few new words or phrases and has a corresponding song. We usually take a week or two on each lesson, although we have skipped weeks during the year too. I’d recommend Song School Latin for a gentle, easy start in Latin for little ones, but once we finish the book we are moving on for Kindergarten.
Although I do think Song School Latin is a good program, I’m looking to go long-term and in-depth with Latin so in the fall we are going to start Prima Latina, which is part of the Memoria Press Latin program. Prima Latina is also quite reasonably priced on Amazon ($29.65 for the student book, teacher’s manual, and pronunciation CD). You can read more about the program and how it fits in with a longer Latin sequence on the company website (which also explains the reasoning behind teaching ecclesiastical Latin in primary years before moving into classical Latin). I was sort of on the fence about starting Prima Latina in Kindergarten, although my sister-in-law did so successfully with her boys, but reading The Latin-Centered Curriculum really helped me think through my reservations and clarify my goals for Latin, and now I think I’m ready to give it a go. Since I haven’t used the program yet I can’t speak personally for it, but I’ve heard great things from others.
If you’ve been thinking of integrating Latin into your kids’ education, or even if you hadn’t really considered it before, hopefully the links in this post give you some food for thought. I’m certainly not trying to take a “all good parents teach Latin!” stance, but this is something I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about so I thought I’d write about it. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The Memoria Press links are not affiliate links.