When I think about my current life, it is just bizarre to me that I homeschool. And what’s even more bizarre?
I teach my children Latin.
I was the pre-children person that looked upon homeschooling with disdain because, well, why would you do that? Homeschoolers are weird people, as I once believed.
Side story: I used to work nights as a Registered Nurse. One Sunday evening, a fellow nurse was sharing how excited she was to start her new homeschool year with her 1st and 3rd grade girls the next day. This mother worked all night long on Saturday and Sunday, and then was going to start the new school year fresh and bright on Monday morning with her sweet girls.
I won’t share my response with you because it was shameful. I wish I could tell that mother how sorry I am for not being supportive and encouraging. She was sacrificing her time and sleep and well, herself and her life.
Thankfully, the Lord has grown me and changed me in many ways since that time.
The fact that we have homeschooled now for 10+ years is certainly an interesting thought for me to ponder and roll around in my brain.
Because I started out completely on my own without a mentor in sight, I’ve taught myself about homeschooling – educational philosophies, learning styles, best practices, how to teach particular subjects.
And perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned which subjects are worthy of being taught well.
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How I First Learned About Latin
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Latin was never on my radar in my pre-homeschooling days. I first heard about teaching Latin after reading about it in The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.
More Reading → I’ve long sung the praises of The Well-Trained Mind. You can watch this video where I mention briefly how I use it when figuring out what to teach my children.
It was also The Well-Trained Mind that first introduced me to the concept of a classical education, which of course, incorporates the study of Latin.
As a more seasoned mother, I try to be very intentional and thoughtful about every aspect of our life and home and school. However, in those early years of motherhood and homeschooling, I did what I thought was best and prayed that it would be okay.
As far as Latin goes, it turned out more than okay. I’m glad I followed The Well-Trained Mind somewhat blindly along with Tapestry of Grace.
When I first introduced Latin into our homeschool, I did not understand nor foresee how it would benefit my young learners. It truly was a shot in the dark for me.
But the results after so many years of Latin?
Latin is an Exclusive Club
When we first started Latin in 3rd grade with my oldest son, I could not have dreamed up how beautifully it would fit his personality. Latin is a little obscure in that it provides insight into our modern world that only Latin-literate readers have.
Independently connecting the dots and understanding that the English words subtrahend, equine, annual, and vocal are all based in Latin was “fun” for him. At 14 years old, he still enjoys this type of knowledge, albeit tedious to learn at times.
As my other children have gotten older and further along in their Latin studies, I’ve also seen them display this same type of enjoyment in learning. It’s like they belong to an exclusive club.
We often talk Latin over dinner (in recent news – quid pro quo anyone?) or ponder over a Latin reference we read in a book.
Don’t get me wrong – I have some children that love and enjoy studying Latin more than others. But even the child that doesn’t like the hard work of Latin memorization understands the importance of Latin in helping us interpret and make sense out of our modern world.
Even my child that drags her feet and isn’t a fan of recitation understands that Latin gives her an advantage in understanding every day references and words she encounters when reading.
Latin Helps My Children Learn English Grammar
Even from the early days of Prima Latina, I could immediately see how the study of Latin supplements learning English grammar. I want my children to be able to express their thoughts succinctly, logically, and thoughtfully. Without a thorough knowledge of English grammar, this isn’t possible.
Starting in the lowest level of Latin, my children are exposed to Latin nouns, verbs, prepositions, and more. My older children work with more difficult grammar concepts, such as participles and gerunds.
While English grammar and Latin are certainly mastery subjects, the study of Latin helps my children spiral back through those concepts that need frequent review.
That one aspect is benefit enough for me to include Latin in our homeschool.
Latin Forces the Student to Pay Attention to Detail
While attention to detail is innate for some people, it is a skill that must be learned for others.
Not noticing or not caring about details shows up all throughout a student’s work – math problems with calculation errors throughout, paragraphs without capital letters and punctuation after extensive teaching, or not following multi-step directions.
I’ve seen all of those show in my children’s work through the years.
Where inattention to detail is most glaringly obvious is in Latin. Memorizing and recognizing the make up of Latin words – stems and endings – is vital for accurate translation.
Latin forces the student to parse each and every word, which includes its stem and ending. This type of analyzing can’t be done hastily or half-heartedly, requiring full attention and concentration.
It requires mental discipline.
In a world of distraction, filled with smart phones and scrolling internet screens, it is a worthy and valuable skill to increase one’s mental stamina and discipline.
While this is a tedious and oftentimes monotonous part of learning Latin, it can be one of the most valuable skills that results from such hard work.
Resources to Help the Homeschool Mom Learn About Latin
Here are a few resources that helped me make the decision to teach Latin, recognize its importance in the modern world, and why it’s so worthy of being taught to my children.
— The Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell – This book is quite outdated in terms of recommendations, but the theory and heart of the book is still very relevant in trying to understand why Latin is so important in the homeschool. I believe it is out of print, but it’s routinely in the used book section at my local homeschool store.
— 10 Reasons to Study Latin by Cheryl Lowe – Read through 10 hard-to-refute reasons to study Latin, despite its status of ‘dead language’.
— The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer – Referenced above, this book lays out reasons to study Latin in addition to very practical study methods for every stage of learning.
— Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons – I am only into the 2nd chapter of this book, so I can’t fully recommend it yet. I’ll come back and edit this post once I’ve completed reading it!
I Have Yet to See Latin’s Full Potential
My 14-year old and I are working through Henle I this year, while my 12-year old studies through Second Form Latin with the Memoria Press Online Academy. I am teaching my 5th grader First Form Latin and my 3rd grader Prima Latina.
I didn’t know one lick of Latin before starting Prima Latina many years ago. If I can learn Latin, I promise you that you can, too!
I share our current Latin studies to show that no one in our homeschool has gone through a full translation course yet. I still consider myself and my children to be grammar stage students in the study of Latin.
In the years to come, it will be fascinating to translate the original writings of Caesar and read from the original text.
What will the future of Latin hold for our family? I am not sure yet, but I’m so excited to find out!
Do you teach Latin to your children? What has been the most significant benefit so far? Please share in the comments!