Thursday, September 9, 2010

Afterschooling update

With bigger classes, no gifted and a shorter school day, AJ and I decided to do some after school homeschooling. While some of it involves enhancing his daily lessons especially in math, most of our time is spent on learning a new language.

The language AJ picked was Latin. I’m not sure why he decided Latin was a good one but I was happy about it because a) I had Latin in school and b) I’ve been wanting to relearn the grammar, which I seem to have largely forgotten.

I have to admit, I did not do a whole lot of research into curriculum. The homeschool pages recommending Latin curricula were almost entirely including Latin for religious reasons. And that’s just not us.

Instead, I picked the Cambridge Latin Course. I used the course in high school Latin myself and I already owned the first two books of the series, which saves us some big bucks. Plus their website has some helpful tools on it, including games and self-quizzes for every chapter. A warning, though, to those who use Chrome as their browser of choice: some of the components are not compatible. We switch to Firefox before heading to the site.

We’ve also located some online flashcards for the series, which let AJ study vocabulary on his own.

I’ve already written a little about what I like about Cambridge Latin. I was a little nervous about using it with a 9-year-old, but it seems to be working out well. He likes the humor of the stories – yesterday he learned how to say “dirty poem” (versus scurrilis!). I like the way the stories keep circling back on vocabulary so it’s easy to learn. And we both like reading the culture sections.

I wasn’t sure how the grammar issue was going to go. AJ’s had some Spanish in an after school program, but it was strictly conversational and largely aural/oral. They didn’t discuss things like conjugation or even much about masculine/feminine/neuter. But the book explains grammar so logically, with one main point per chapter (or “Stage” as they call it), that AJ is all over it.

The book is very translation oriented like many Latin books. But to keep AJ interested, we’ve been reading out loud and doing some of the translations orally, others written. I agonized for a while about pronunciation. In school, I studied classical Latin. But I’ve spent much more time as a singer working with church Latin so in the end, that’s what I decided to teach. I’m more familiar with it and less likely to make mistakes. And really, it doesn’t matter. I’m more concerned with giving him a connection to the language than about what it really sounds like.

Every chapter ends with an exercise that includes a list of English words with roots based on the chapter’s Latin vocabulary. You have to match the English words with their definitions. We’ve been using these exercises as a springboard to talk about English vocabulary, which has been fun. I’m not sure where I’m going with it. AJ’s been really interested in the Scripp’s Spelling bee, so maybe we’ll work on some vocabulary/spelling games as well.

So, so far,so good. I’m liking our afterschooling routine. Even with football practices every night, it seems to be working.

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