Ah, Latin! The most intimidating aspect of a Classical education. Right? Most of us parents feel inadequate to teach Latin because most of us ever took an actual Latin course.
Interestingly enough, I had a class in 7th grade which was an exposure to various languages. It started with Latin. We moved 3 times that year, so I only got the first part of the Latin unit. I am proud to say I can perfectly remember one Latin phrase: “Quid agis?” “How are you?”
Somehow I don’t feel this is adequate preparation to teach Latin. But here we are.
One of the most curious parts of the Foundations curriculum for Classical Conversations, in my opinion, is Latin. Not because I think it is frivolous or unnecessary, but because it is the one most obscured by the bridge from Foundations and Essentials to the Challenge years. It is as though we parents of littles can see across a wide river the benefits of Latin, but we can’t see the passage across.
It is hard to see the connections between what we learn in Latin in the Foundations years and what our students will be dealing with in the Challenge years – especially cycles 1 and 2. Noun endings and verb conjugations are just so abstract at this point.
So what do we do for our students who show interest in Latin, but who are just now repeating a cycle in Foundations?
History is my jam. I was a church history major in college. My favorite all-time teachers, the ones who impacted me the most, taught me history. Impressed upon my heart and mind, I can still see Mrs. Berry (10th grade World History) standing at the front of class, speaking like Demosthenes. I can still remember my 8th grade American History teacher’s impressive display of Civil War artifacts.
As I tend toward history and literature or language learning, it was easy in our early years to attempt to make the Classical Conversations history sentences come alive to my student(s) by simple activities. In those early days, we did very little extra. but most of the time the extra would be history. We wrote better than Charlemagne; held spontaneous coronation ceremonies; “nailed” pretend 95 Theses to the wall; visited a building with a Magna Carta mural; went on a presidental tour around town; and on and on.
Then, as we began to practice a bit more of a Charlotte Mason approach to our education, we practiced the arts of noticing, attending, and storytelling as we read living history books about the characters who dotted our Classical Conversations Timeline and history sentences. Often, we stopped to sing snippets of the Timeline song or a history sentence related to what we had just read.
All that I considered simple, not because it was easy (because it was) but because it was natural. It was borne out of my natural love of history. I suspect other parents would just as easily and naturally add to the sciences or math.