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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Latin for Preschoolers

How can I exlpain to my husband about why 4year olds need to learn latin? He wonders why they can't learn a more practical language like Spanish. AND he doesn't even see that Chinese IS the new spanish...HELP!

This question was posed to me recently in email by a reader. I gave her my answer, which I'll share below, but I would love to ask you all how you would answer her. Leave a comment and let's give this sweet mom some support!

Here's my answer to her . . .
Oh, my, I don't think you are going to like my answer. 
I honestly don't know why your 4 year olds need to learn Latin either. They have plenty of time for that later. However, if your question is why Latin over Spanish, that is a different question. Spanish is a great language for anyone to learn, as is Chinese. Highly valuable and worthwhile. Latin is a worthy language to master, too. It gives you a better grasp of the English language, helps with anyone going into medicine or science or classics, and does help develop the mind in logic and thinking skills. But I don't think it needs to be started so young for it to be valuable.
My eldest started some basic Latin memory at 11 (in CC Foundations) and took Latin in Challenge A and B. Hated it, but did very well. He's taken Spanish this year and loves it. If he does return to CC next year, I'll require him to do well at Latin for one year and then I'll let him do Spanish in addition to Latin. 
I don't see anything wrong with a young child learning a fun language like Spanish or Chinese. Nor do I see anything wrong with your young children learning Latin, but I don't think it is required. Of course all this is just one homeschool mom's opinion! (And I would add here that I think there are far more important things to be learning at 4, like Winnie-the-Pooh and what frogs do in the winter and how to make the color orange and how to make their bed.)
Here is a video you might share with your husband about the value of learning Latin. But I would keep in mind that he has a good point, knowing a practical language is valuable and worthwhile. 
A YouTube Video - personally, the 5th reason is really the most important, but they are all good.

So, do you agree? Can Latin wait until later? Should Latin wait until later?


Philothea said...

A 4-year-old does not need to learn Latin, and I don't think it would be a good idea at that age.

From experience, I believe a child should have a good foundation in English phonics before tackling Latin or any other language. The exception would be for dual-language households where daily immersion in two (or more) languages is possible. I'm addressing English-speaking families who wish to teach a foreign language. If your child can't sound out "carpet" or "baseball" he will do no better with "mensa" or "navigo."

I do agree that Latin is valuable, but that age 4 is too early.

VA said...

We've just had this experience in our house. My girls are K and 1st grade, this is our second year in CC. I started Prima Latina this past fall on the recommendation of a dear friend who believes strongly in starting Latin at a young age. PL was too much, and we were better off spending our time being thorough in English phonics and cementing reading. Honestly, the Latin they're getting in CC is enough. Completely useless for them at the moment, but the information will be in their long-term memory banks when they need it. For second term we've switched to Song School Latin which appeals to my sing-songy audio learners much better. We'll go back to Prima Latina next fall and see how it goes, but if we don't end up really doing it until my oldest is in 3rd grade I won't be all that disappointed.

Sandy said...

I do think Latin is valuable, in fact I don't know how you would study English without it, but even just Greek and Latin roots will give you the basics. I would strongly disagree that Chinese is the new Spanish. In fact, I would say that Spanish is no longer a foreign language in the United States. People all around us read, write an speak Spanish every day. It is on street signs and restaurant menus. I live in a border state, but it was in my home state as well before I moved. IMHO, Spanish is not optional. I do agree that children should have a strong grasp of English before beginning Latin. I wouldn't start Latin unless a child could comfortably read a chapter book, say, Little House on the Prairie, and remember what they had read.

MomCO3 said...

I vote No on Latin until 4th grade or so, when a little abstract thinking comes in. At 4, I think a spoken language is more practical/useful/reasonable.

Peter Sipes said...

My feeling is that if you can actually speak Latin, 4 isn't to young to begin teaching. Otherwise, there's no reason.