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Learning Latin: What I Use

Learning Latin: What I Use

This is part of the series: Classical Homeschooling

Today’s post contains three resources I use for learning Latin in our homeschool, even though I had never studied Latin before.

Henle

When I started thinking about doing Latin with my son two or three years ago, I purchased the first year of Henle’s high school Latin curriculum. I wanted to get a foundation of Latin for myself before attempting to teach it to my kids.

Henle Latin First Year, Latin Grammar, and the First Year Answer Key

  

This is a three-book course in first-year Latin, and you need each book. You’ll want to do this if you have a little more significant time to devote to learning Latin–like during the summer.

The Henle series was published in 1953, and has a distinctive style particular to that era, which I’ve grown to love. It is similar in style to Ray’s Arithmetic series and Harvey’s Grammar. It requires the student to do exercises, translate sentences, learn grammar, and practice vocabulary. All-in-all, it’s pretty comprehensive.

The drawback to learning Latin this way is you’re likely doing it on your own. These books were designed to be accompanied by classroom instruction–or at least access to an instructor. I found it sometimes difficult to work through the books without access to someone who could answer my questions. (But that also made me work harder for an answer, therefore feeling more accomplished when I figured it out all on my own. So there’s that.)
In the end, I petered out on Henle because I chose to devote my time to other things, but I do think it came in useful with what I chose next. And when I have more time, I plan to dig back into it.

Prima Latina

Fast forward to my son beginning third grade. This was the year I decided to go ahead and introduce Latin into his school day–even though I only had a few months of Henle under my belt.

I chose Prima Latina by Leigh Lowe and it’s been great so far. The full set is only $32 or so on Amazon, so I found it affordable for a student book, teacher book and DVD. This curriculum was obviously designed for parents who had never encountered Latin before. There are even blanks in the teacher book for me to practice my vocabulary words too.

The only drawback I think this program has is that for a child who is not so hip on writing a lot, the lessons can be too writing intensive. My son is that way, so we break the lessons up and only do a part of a lesson each week. I’m not in a hurry to learn Latin–I’d rather we learn it well.

Which brings me to my third and final tool:

Brainscape

This is a digital flashcard app we use for geography and Latin. Brainscape has a bank of subjects you can download from them, both paid and free. They have their own Latin deck, but the thing I love about it is they allow you to write your own flashcards. So I write my own flashcards for each lesson in Prima Latina.

We’ll need these vocabulary cards for years to come, so having them digital is great. Flashcards have to be unusually durable to survive long in my house. I do still use physical flashcards for math, but despite my attempts to keep them from getting trampled, I’ve already had to remake them numerous times. Bummer.

The other great part about Brainscape is its “Confidence-Based Repetition” technique. After you look at each card, you can rate on a scale of 1-5 how well you knew the answer. If you didn’t know it very well, Brainscape will give you that card more often, so you have more exposure to the info.

This algorithm, I think, is superior to physical flashcards because it recognizes when you need to practice a few cards within your deck of flashcards. It doesn’t waste time giving you cards you’ve already mastered. The point is to learn things we don’t know, right? I think this app gets it.

There are the resource I use in our homeschool for Latin. Comment below if you have some great resources you’re using!

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
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