About five or six years ago, I read about homeschooling using a classical approach, and I became convinced that we should study Latin. Addison was thrilled and was perhaps even more excited about learning Latin than I was. All went well for the first few weeks, but then, well, life happened and Latin didn't. Fast forward a few years and Addison was still interested in learning Latin. I chose a different program for her, and well, life happened again. Eventually, we gave up and declared our family Latin dropouts. Our latest review product proves that we can learn Latin and, perhaps more importantly, that we can have fun learning Latin.
Classical Academic Press advertises "Classical Subjects, Creatively Taught." I agree 100%.
Their Latin for Children program is the first Latin program that we've been able to stick with. A big part of it is because it's just so enjoyable. Instead of always just practicing vocabulary by drilling each other on our own, we use the DVD to practice it as chants. These chants are so catchy that I find myself singing, "Amo, amas, amat..." when I'm folding laundry or driving to baseball practice. The DVD lessons give a clear, but not overly boring, explanation of the new grammar concepts to learn. Brennan is a big fan of the video extras on the DVDs. He always hopes that our new lesson will have another episode in the ongoing puppet show, "How the West was Unum." Addison understands the Latin phrases but doesn't necessarily appreciate the dry humor; Brennan and I think they're hysterical.
Latin for Children is intended for 3rd through 6th graders. In our house, though, we're all learning together. Lauren (5 years old) refuses to be left out when we're watching the chants. The other afternoon I heard her singing, "In principio erat verbum," while she played in her room. Unfortunately, last Sunday morning she could sing the corresponding translation, "In the beginning was the Word," but couldn't remember, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" for her Sunday School lesson.
Our family received the Latin for Children Mastery Bundle which includes the Primer (workbook) and teacher's manual, the Activity Book, the lessons on DVDs, and the History Reader. We spend one day watching the new chants and the lesson on the DVD. For the next three or four days, we repeat the chant portion of the DVD and work on the activities in the main workbook. I usually spend one of those days reviewing the grammar lesson with Brennan to make sure he understands all of the new concepts. He often needs more practice to learn the vocabulary words and grammar concepts than Addison so he gets to do the "fun" practice in the Activity Book -- crossword puzzles, mazes, word searches, fun diagrams, etc. It usually takes us a full week to work through each lesson. Addison (7th grade) could perhaps move a bit more quickly through the materials, but they're not necessarily too easy for her. One lesson per week gives Brennan (4th grade) and me ample time to practice the new vocabulary words.
I know that many people have specific preferences when it comes to choosing a Latin program. I always try to focus my reviews on my family's experience, but I'd be remiss if I didn't share a few more basics about Latin for Children. We did not find a heavy Christian influence in the materials. The first chapter Maxim was a verse taken from the Latin Vulgate; it looks like all the rest in this level are famous Roman sayings. I also know that some people have a strong preference for either Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciations. The DVDs include identical lessons for each style so that you can learn your preferred pronunciation.
The Latin for Children Mastery Bundle for level A sells for $99.95. All of the items are also available separately. Classical Academic Press also offers Latin instruction for younger children with Song School Latin and for older children with Latin Alive. Other homeschool parents on The Old Schoolhouse Crew have been reviewing the various Latin options, and you can find those additional reviews on the Crew blog.
As for my family, I suspect that our Latin for Children materials will rank as one of our favorite products this year. Latin is now a part of our regular school days, and I look forward to seeing how much we all learn as we work through the three levels that Classical Academic Press offers.