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Latin for Children Primer A Set Review by Audrey Tolle

Classical Academic Press
515 S. 32nd St.
Camp Hill, PA 17011

I have always been super intimidated at the thought of learning Latin. My husband learned Latin growing up, and I see how it has benefited him in many areas of his life, especially in his ability to learn and speak other languages easily. Naturally, I wanted my kids to have the benefits of learning Latin as well, but I felt so insecure about tackling Latin for myself. It just seemed too hard. I belong to a classical homeschool program that puts a big emphasis on Latin, so I knew that I was going to have to take it on sooner or later. When offered the chance to review this curriculum, I leapt at the opportunity. I have loved many products put out by Classical Academic Press and I was hoping that Latin For Children would not be the exception.

The Latin For Children Primer A Set includes: 8 DVD/2CD set with lessons and chants, the Latin Primer A book, activity book, answer key, and the history reading primer. You have the option for both the Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations and clear instructions on how the pronunciations work. The video lectures include both. The DVD lesson begins with the vocabulary chants. These are catchy little ditties to help memorize the list of weekly conjugations, declensions, verses, poems, etc. This is followed by the lesson portion which is about 20- 25 minutes. Dr. Perrin teaches lecture style with a chalkboard and introduces the current weeks memory work and then goes in depth about how to conjugate the verb or decline the noun. He introduces the verbs by person, number, and tense and the nouns by gender, number, and case. All the information may seem confusing, but he has a way of sorting it out and tying it to the English language, so it doesn’t seem as complicated. He is witty in a dry humor sort of way, so the videos are not at all cumbersome to watch.

The Latin Primer is a high-quality, colorful, and beautifully done book that introduces more definitions, verb tenses, etc., and gives the student a chance to translate and review a few words by following the ongoing story of characters Markus and Julia. Each chapter contains the following sections: Memory Work, Chapter Story, Grammar Lesson, Worksheet, Derivatives, and a quiz. In a typical week, we introduced the memory work, the chant and DVD lesson on day 1, reviewed the chant and did the Grammar Lesson in the primer on day 2, reviewed chant and did the primer worksheet on day 3, the derivatives on day 4, and reviewed and took the quiz on day 5. We would usually watch the DVD lesson again on day 3 or 4 if we needed the review. Obviously, there is flexibility in this and you can modify the work schedule to your own needs, but I did find that my kids retained more of it if we did a little review every day and not try to cram it all into two or three longer Latin lessons. 

The Activity Book is an additional black and white resource to solidify the weekly work through mazes, crosswords, games, etc. I would consider this an “extra,” but my kids did enjoy doing these pages and it did help reinforce the grammar. The reading primer is not used right away in the course. However, it gives the students the chance to read in Latin on their own eventually to put their learning into context and practice translating words based on the context surrounding the word. For example, there is no word for “the” or “a” in Latin, so you would need to figure out which one is supposed to be used based on the context of the text. The history reader gives the students a chance to eventually get to practice translating on their own.

I must admit, that I have put off looking into Latin curriculum because I thought they would be boring and put me to sleep. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong about this curriculum. In fact, I am trying to quickly push through these videos for my own benefit because I love the way Dr. Perrin teaches and the information he shares and how he draws similarities and differences between Latin and our mother tongue. It is engaging enough to keep the attention of my three upper elementary students. They love the colorful pages and worksheets and stories. Each lesson shows some English derivations from the Latin verb that was introduced in the lesson. The repetition of the presented material is enough to get it into the memory, but not too much where it is drudgery to continue. The worksheets and stories are fun and engaging, yet comprehensive and thorough. It fits the classical method of teaching fantastically by drilling the grammar and committing to memory the vocab and grammar in fun age-appropriate ways.

One thing I have noticed is that so far, as of this moment, none of my kids have complained about Latin being hard. I know it will become more challenging and does require hard work, but it is introduced in bite sized chunks that seem manageable for their brains. Again, there is enough fun thrown in there to keeps them hooked. From the parent perspective, I appreciate that there isn’t a teacher’s guide, but the answer key is all that is needed. It almost assumes that the parent will be learning alongside the student. There is also great support on their website with links to more games and activities and parent/teacher helps.

All of this to say, we absolutely love this Latin program and would recommend it enthusiastically. I have already placed an order for additional activity books for my other children and look forward to our continuing journey learning Latin together as a family.

-Product review by Audrey Tolle, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2018