Our homeschool has included Latin for a number of years now. Abby started in 3rd grade with a text that came highly recommended by bloggers and promised to make classical learning fun.
We started the course and enjoyed the videos of kids chanting and the amusing puppet shows, but there was one big problem.
We were so confused.
She didn’t get it, and when I tried to help her, I didn’t get it, either. Latin was a mystery. Which was weird, because it was supposed to be so logical.
When I discovered Memoria Press a couple of years later, I bought First Form for Abby and Latina Christiana for Emma.
Lo and behold, it all made sense. We found ourselves saying, “OHHHH! That’s why the other book said that! Now I get what they meant.”
Latina Christiana is very simple (mostly vocabularly), so Emma and I were okay with that. Abby is a very independent learner, so I didn’t have to teach a whole lot. I checked their work, and helped them figure out corrections, but I did NOT make any attempt to absorb the material.
In fact, I know I said things like, “If I were going to really keep up, I’d have to study Latin in my free time, and that’s not happening.”
Last year, Abby took Second Form online, because I knew there was no way I could keep up. That was a great experience. She enjoyed the class format (although she claims not to enjoy Latin) and she did really well.
But it was Emma’s turn for First Form. She is not quite so independent as Abby, and I’ve discovered that she does not learn well from a video teacher. She needed me to teach the material, and review it, and work at least some of the exercises with her. I took more time with her, but I still refused to really learn the material myself. I had the teacher guide and I thought that was enough.
Then I went to Sodalitas this summer, a meeting of homeschool moms who also use Memoria Press materials, and a couple of things happened that convinced me that I needed to buckle down and commit to learning Latin myself.
First, I attended a pre-conference workshop on how to teach Second Form. I knew Emma would not flourish in an online class this year, and that it would be up to me to teach Second Form. I realized quickly that I was going to have to have a better understanding of the material in First Form in order to teach Second Form. You can’t fake your way through Second Form. Even with a teacher’s manual.
Second, one of the other moms, who began learning Latin alongside her children years ago, gave it to us straight, “If you commit to learning Latin, you will not be able to read as many books. You won’t be able to do some other things you’d like to do. It will take time. But it’s worth it.”
Here’s the thing: if you believe learning Latin is a worthwhile task for your kids, it’s also worth it for you.
It was further encouraging to learn that Cheryl Lowe, who founded Highlands Latin School and Memoria Press and wrote the Form series, didn’t even start learning Latin until she was 40! How inspiring!
And so I have begun.
I bought a First Form workbook for myself and have started working through the exercises. I’m doing exactly what I said for years that I wouldn’t do: spending my free time learning Latin.
When we finish school for the day, the kids scatter to play and I pull out my books and get to work.
Sometimes I study while I’m making dinner – you’ve got to do something while waiting for the chicken to boil and studying Latin is much more valuable than aimlessly scrolling through social media.
I’ve been borrowing my daughter’s vocabulary flashcards, but this week I realized that I’d prefer to have my own, so I ordered another set. I also ordered the book of quizzes and tests for myself. All in.
“Naturally I am biased in favour of boys learning English. I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour, and Greek as a treat.” ~ Winston Churchill