Do You Seriously Teach First Graders Latin?!

The short answer is: Yep! The inevitable reply is WHY?! Do you really think that’s necessary?! The short answer: Nope! But, I do it anyway. Here’s why…

I don’t teach art history because it’s necessary. I don’t teach music appreciation because it’s necessary. And, I don’t teach Latin because it’s necessary. But, learning these subjects is fun. It’s enriching. And, it’s worthwhile. I was super skeptical at first too. I thought that Latin seemed like “a little much” for primary school. But, I was wrong.

Now, I’m not saying you should incorporate Latin into your home school day. But, I’m sure glad I included it in mine.

Here’s how it started. My daughter was begging to learn a foreign language. I’m not bilingual. I took Spanish in high school but, I don’t remember much. In fact, I don’t think I learned much to begin with. I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in this venture because I really thought it would be fleeting. I thought her attention span would wane and all the money would go down the drain. So, I ordered a couple free resources from the library. Among them was a Spanish video, and a book/CD Latin combo I had found when browsing Amazon. My daughter anxiously awaited the call that our items were available.

Finally, we picked them up on our weekly library run. The video was a total flop. We couldn’t even finish it. It wasn’t age appropriate. It was scattered and disorganized. Even with my rudimentary Spanglish, I couldn’t keep up. We were disappointed and decided to try Latin the next day. I reminded her that learning a language was difficult and  a lot of hard work. She proceeded to skip around the living room speaking enthusiastically in made up jibberish and loudly and triumphantly proclaimed tomorrow “Latin Day!” Gotta love optimism.

The next day, I opened the package. There was a big cartoon monkey on the cover. I tried not to roll my eyes as I took the CD out of the plastic sleeve. I popped the CD in the player and started to leaf through the companion book. Very catchy upbeat tunes filled the room. In no time at all, we were singing along. The kids were giggling and having a great time. I couldn’t believe it. We were actually picking up a few words and phrases. After a half hour or so, I suggested we get some other work done. “One more! One more song!” was the reply. The next day was the same. So was the next… and the next. Long story short, we renewed the book/CD as many times as was allowed and the kids were still interested. I finally conceded. I had been wrong. This might actually work. That night, I ordered our own copy from Amazon.

This is what I bought.Book and CD

It’s called Song School Latin. Right now it’s $24.95 on Amazon. There’s also a video option that my friend Jody swears by. Buy video here.

I make flash cards of the words we learn to add to our word chart.



If you want the work done for you though, you can purchase ready-made cards.

Buy flash cards here.

Or, you can get a whole kit here. Latin 1 Bundle

I mentioned our Latin venture to a friend. She told me that her kids loved a Latin cassette tape/book set someone had given her. She said that they were finished with it and moving to the next level. I was welcome to have it too. We tried it and my little boy was enthralled. It is an audio adventure about kids who discover a hidden island of people who speak Latin. It’s fun and interesting. It’s been updated to CD.


Get the Children’s Latin Power-Glide course here.

So, how do we do this? We’re not super disciplined with it. We keep the Latin CD in the car. When we are going to the grocery store or the post office, I’ll turn it on. We listen to the familiar songs that we know by heart and then I’ll play one we haven’t done before. I only play one “new” song at a time.  We listen to the “new song” two or three times and try to sing along. Each time we are in the car, we follow this routine until we all know the “new song” and can easily sing along with it. Then, the next track on the CD becomes our “new song.” At home, we sometimes use the worksheets in our Latin book for our handwriting practice. The kids welcome this because it gives them a break from their regular routine. Some weeks we “do Latin” several times. Other weeks, we might get to it once. But, it’s viewed as a fun elective like art or music. I’m careful not to make it a core subject that is mandatory. We enjoy it, even me. And, even with just this small exposure to it, we’ve learned a good bit. I think it adds something to our overall educational experience. It gives the kids a source of pride. Plus, there’s this: This is an excerpt from explaining how a  knowledge of Latin makes learning other languages much easier.

  1. “Helps you gain a better understanding of many languages  – This is one of the main arguing points for Latin. Latin helps you gain a better understanding of many modern languages in the world. Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian all are direct descendants of Latin. They aren’t the only ones, however. About 42 other languages take something from Latin. About 80% of the vocabulary of these languages comes from Latin and will give you a great head start if you want to learn more than one of these. In addition to this, it also helps with understanding modern inflected languages such as German and Arabic (which I can personally attest to). Don’t get me wrong, if you just want to learn one other language (whether for personal or professional reasons), just learn that language. It would be a waste of your time to learn Latin if you just want to gain working proficiency in one other language, but, if you wish to gain a better understanding of that language or learn many languages (especially the Romance languages), you should at least consider learning Latin.”

My kids have picked up on Latin words in our Science textbook too. Remember, human anatomy, botany terms, and the animal kingdom all share Latin names. And, we’ve run into it in our history text too. (Anno Domini- A.D., Augustus means blessed, etc.)

The above resources are geared toward younger kids (K-3) but, older kids will benefit even more. Statistics show that teens with two years of Latin in high school will score much higher on the SAT verbal than teens who have taken two years in another foreign language. Read about that here.

So, whether your kids are youngsters singing along with a cartoon monkey, big kids taking an audio adventure to a deserted island, or teens prepping for college, Latin might be something to consider. I was super skeptical when this all started. But, now we love it and value it. It will be something we will continue to learn.

2 responses to “Do You Seriously Teach First Graders Latin?!”

  1. Jody Stottlemyer Avatar

    Lately around here, my 7yo takes the preschoolers to a bedroom and entertains them with the Song School Latin songs so that I can “do” school for the older kids. It gives me a good 20-30 minutes to do lessons with the older boys. Meanwhile, she’s doing her own Latin (songs and workbook) and the little ones are absorbing it, too.

    1. twinmommaelm Avatar


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