A couple of years ago, I shared why I teach Latin in our homeschool. Since then, I’ve received many questions, comments, and emails inquiring as to how to teach Latin – how to get started, how to choose curriculum, and what the end game looks like.
The biggest concern aside from why is: what to do if you don’t know Latin yourself as the homeschool mom. I know this subject well since I didn’t start learning any ‘real’ Latin until I was almost 40 years old.
Before the end of this spring semester, I will publish a few posts on how I teach Latin in our home. Today we are starting with Prima Latina!
As with all of my homeschool posts, take the ideas that might work for your family and your homeschool and leave the rest! ❤
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Why I Chose Prima Latina
If you are curious why we start Latin in 3rd grade in our homeschool, you can read about why we study Latin in our homeschool, and that will clear up some of those questions.
I intentionally chose Prima Latina from Memoria Press over other Latin programs geared towards younger ages for specific reasons:
— The page layout is extremely clean with minimal fuss
— The lessons are similar style from week to week
— The amount of material to memorize is age appropriate
— It’s easy for a homeschool mom to teach that has no Latin background. ◀ One of the best reasons for me!
Another perk of Prima Latina is that it comes with teaching DVDs (assuming you choose that option) if you feel like you need that type of support. A Latin teacher teaches you and your child the lesson each week. For a homeschool mom that feels intimidated by Latin, or doesn’t have much time, those DVDs (and now streaming option) is a great alternative!
I also chose Prima because the material learned is extensive for this age, but it’s done so in small, bite-sized portions. By the end of the year of Prima, my children know:
— The Latin alphabet and pronunciation of vowels and consonants
— How to pronounce, spell, and translate 125 Latin words
— 25 common Latin expressions
— 4 prayers in full context
— Numbers 1-10
— Names of 10 popular constellations
— Understand the concept of derivatives
— Multiple grammar concepts – some of the basic parts of speech, conjugating is associated with verbs, and declining is associated with nouns
Some families choose to use Latin to exclusively teach English grammar, but I found that doesn’t work well for my children. I choose to pair Latin with Rod and Staff Grammar, and it is a lovely fit!
✔ Read More: How We Use Rod and Staff English Grammar in Our Homeschool – this is a very detailed post if you’re looking to evaluate this curriculum. I hope it’s helpful!
Prima Latina Products We Use
I use all of the Prima Latina products and add-ons that Memoria Press offers. I often don’t purchase All The Things related to a specific curriculum, but I do in this case since I find them all helpful and consistently use them.
I list how I practically use each one of them in the rest of this post. If you have questions about implementing them, please leave a comment and I’ll try to help!
Here’s a list of what we use:
Prima Latina Basic Set – this includes the Teacher’s Guide, Student Workbook, and Pronunciation Audio (choose from CD or streaming)
Prima Latina Flash Cards – these are incorporated in the Latina Christiana set. I just pull the Prima cards and place in a separate ziploc bag.
Prima Latina DVDs – we use DVDs because the Streaming Option wasn’t available when I purchased 8+ years ago. I used these for years but do not now. I wrote how I used them in our homeschool, so make sure to read to the end if you’re interested in this teaching option.
What We Do Each Day in Prima Latina
One of the many things I like about Memoria Press is the predictability from week to week. We occasionally need to supplement with some ‘creative’ projects here and there in our History or Classical studies, but this consistency of Memoria Press is one of the aspects that is so appealing.
Prima Latina follows that pattern of predictability in that each week is structured the same. The Teacher’s Guide gives an excellent example of a weekly lesson plan, and I use bits and pieces of that to make it work for our homeschool.
Our weekly lessons for Prima Latina look like this:
Day 1: – This is always the most time consuming day, and we spend about 30 minutes on Latin.
- Learn the Latin Saying – Recite and write it on the board
- Teach Lesson as laid out in the book (all lessons are on a two-page spread)
- Vocabulary – Read and repeat each vocabulary word aloud. I say the word and translation as we follow along in the workbook, and my daughter repeats it after me. We go through the list several times and then switch where she recites the word and translation and I repeat after her.
I then write all of the vocabulary words on the board and we talk about spelling, their endings, and if we know any other Latin words similar to them.
- We recite or learn the part of the Latin prayer that is assigned for the week. In Prima, the prayers are broken down into very manageable sections.
- My child completes Vocabulary Drill #1 (of 3 for the week).
- Review the Latin saying orally and on the board. If we have extra time, we run through all of the Latin sayings memorized thus far.
- Review the week’s vocabulary orally and on the board, the grammar in the week’s lesson, and the assigned prayer.
- I introduce the derivatives for the week, which are clearly laid out in the teacher’s guide. I write them beside the week’s vocabulary and underline the portions that are alike. We go over definitions of the derivatives so they can make the connection between the Latin and the English word that we derived.
I don’t require my children to memorize the derivatives, as I consider this to be exposure rather than mastery.
- My child completes Vocabulary Drill #2.
- Review: Latin saying, vocabulary, prayer, grammar from the week’s lesson, pertinent derivatives.
- My child completes the first workbook page in the Student Guide. I expect to help with workbook pages through the first semester at least, and often through the whole year depending on the child.
The first page includes a bit of review from previous lessons, questions related to week’s grammar concept, and translation.
- I assign my child to listen to the audio CD for the current lesson, listen to the recited prayer, and 2-3 previous lessons if there’s time.
- Instead of the usual handwriting practice for this day, I assign the cursive sheet from Prima Latina Copybook that corresponds to this lesson. My children start cursive in 3rd grade, so this practice is perfect for them.
- I am very involved in Days 1-3, but only involved with teaching or review on Days 4 and 5 if needed.
- My child completes the second workbook page, which usually involves writing the vocabulary words and their meanings. It also includes various activities such as finding the verb or counting the number of nouns on the table and writing the number in Latin. They’re fun!
- I assign the audio CD for the current lesson and prayer again.
- She independently tests herself with the flash cards from the beginning through the current lesson.
- Occasionally, I have a board activity for my daughter to complete – matching vocabulary and its translation, I write a portion of the prayer and require her to fill in the blanks, or similar. This is just a quickie exercise.
- She completes Vocabulary Drill #3.
- My child independently studies through the flash cards through the current lesson.
- She recites as much of the prayer as she can.
And that’s it! The Latin week is complete.
Using the Video Lessons with Prima Latina
One of the many beauties of homeschooling is modifying and arranging a curriculum to suit your needs as a family and as the teacher.
I didn’t choose to use the videos with my most recent Prima Latina student, because I easily knew the Latin and could teach it without preparation.
However, in previous years, I relied heavily on the Prima Latina DVDs to teach my child and I just barely followed along. There were a couple of reasons for this – I was in the throes of morning sickness, or the newborn stage, or the biggest reason was I didn’t realize that I needed to learn it if I was going to require my children to learn Latin going forward.
Some homeschool moms choose to use the DVDs several times throughout the week – they watch it together over the morning snack a couple of days each week, or they teach on Day 1 and assign their child to watch the video on Day 2 or 3.
Some homeschool moms want to incorporate Latin but are in a harder season of life, so they let the DVD to all of the teaching and mom just moves the assignments along each day. I did this for years, so absolutely no judgement from me! We all have to see where we can dedicate ourselves and our time, and where we need to outsource.
My goal for Prima Latina
My goal for Prima Latina in 3rd grade is pretty simple: I want my children to love Latin.
Prima Latina provides the avenue to help foster that.
In our modern times, knowing Latin is considered unique and unusual, however, it’s just as valuable now as it was in previous centuries. I want Latin to be just as familiar and normal to my children as math and spelling. To me, it’s just as valuable, albeit in a different way.
In practical terms, my goal for Prima Latina is memorization of the vocabulary words, Latin sayings, and prayers.
My children enjoy Latin (some more than others!), and I attribute that to a few reasons: we start gently with Prima Latina, we start early in 3rd grade so it just becomes a normal part of everyday school, and we value Latin in our home.
Are you teaching Prima Latina this year?
Please share any tips or tricks or ideas for teaching Prima Latina to your young ones! It is always helpful to read about how other homeschool mothers order their time, their day, and their curriculum.