On the other side of AP Latin

This week my oldest takes her AP Latin exam. Hitting milestones like these tends to make me reflective, and I thought I would look back on her four years of Latin study and pick out what she has gained from it.

When I started her on the Latin journey, it was mostly based on faith and hope that a return to past traditions would yield higher results. Now that I have seen it first hand, I can say why (I think) it makes you smarter. 1. Students have to work really hard to pick the right English words to translate Latin to English. This is because one Latin word can mean several different English words. Nuance plays an important role, and I have seen first-hand how my daughter is a better writer as she deliberates over her word choices. She critically thinks about how whole passages are written and what the author is trying to make you believe. 2. Latin word order is entirely different than English, and endings of the words indicate the part of speech. This means that a student has to analyze each word in the Latin sentence and determine the grammatical structure and work to put the words into correct English word order. 3. Preparing for the AP Latin exam involves huge amounts of literary analysis skills. My daughter has learned to dig for meaning through verb tense choices, word choices, sentence structure and more. This is done through reading The Aeneid, and analyzing the meter and the Latin words chosen to create and convey meaning. Then Caesar’s De Bello Gallico is also studied and analyzed. Students have to work really hard to access and understand the works in English. Reading the Latin and translating is such a high-level educational experience. 4. Her vocabulary is off the charts. She tested above 1700 Lexile level on her virtual schools reading tests since she was in Latin 2 in 7th grade. 5. Latin requires extreme attention to detail. This is the area of Latin where my daughter struggles the most. I think this is likely due to a combination of her youth and her personality. I have been very impressed with how she has grown and improved in her ability to pay attention and notice minor details. 6. Learning Latin takes loads of grit. Latin can sometimes be tedious and dull, and sometimes really interesting. There are a lot of highs and lows in it–at least if my kid is anything to go by. She has both hated it and loved it at different times. Persevering through the subject has given her strength of character and a myriad of academic skills.

These skills have transferred to other disciplines and subjects. My daughter took AP US Government in 8th grade through an online school. She had to write a media guide where she analyzed news articles and looked for bias. She had to write multiple essays for the class. Her teacher said he had never seen another student like her and that, “Her powers of analysis [were] off the charts.” It is entirely attributed to her Latin preparation and whatever natural talent she was born with, but the way her mind was trained was through the Latin. I don’t know if all of my kids (or anyone else) will get the same results, but my current plan is to put all of my children through Latin because I didn’t do anything else to explicitly train her to analyze or process information (besides allowing her to read extensively). 

All told, DD will have finished 7 AP classes and tests by the end of this week. (Over the course of grades 7-9.) Her most difficult classes have always been her Latin classes, and by comparison everything else has been very doable for her. I am extremely satisfied with what she has gained through her Latin study, and she will be continuing on with Latin 5 in her 10th grade year. She will also be adding Greek because she is interested in learning another classical language, and also because we love this quote from Winston Churchill, “I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honor, and Greek as a treat.”

Code Combat

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-9-39-36-pmIf you follow educational trends at all, you will learn about the need to teach coding and computer science to our students.  The UK actually includes coding as part of their nationwide curriculum, and more countries are following (or leading) suit.  If you google phrases like “teaching code in America,” the top hits are all articles talking about how America is failing students for not teaching coding.  As a mom, I don’t want my kids falling behind students in other countries because they aren’t getting the education they need today to be ready for the global job market. Continue reading

History Odyssey Level 2

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-8-32-10-pmThis school year is my first with a Logic stage student in the classical trivium.  It has been an exciting transition that we are refining as we roll along.  History Odyssey Level 2 Ancients has been a great way to kick off the higher level learning for DD1.  She has had to do a lot more writing and analyzing than in previous years, and I have enjoyed watching her learn how to organize her work in her binder through the lesson instructions. Continue reading

Writing and Rhetoric

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-24-39-pm Writing and Rhetoric is by far the best progymnasmata-based writing program I have used.

Wait!  I can already hear the question flying through the air, “What is the progymnasmata?”

Okay, so let me back up a bit.  When I started looking for a writing curriculum, the first question I had was, “How did they use to teach people to write?”  It seems painfully obvious that something drastic happened in the last few hundred years when you read “classical literature” coming forward through time. Continue reading

Ivy Kids to My Rescue


Nov 2016–My first kit.

Before I was a mom with five kids, I was a mom with less kids, and once upon a time, not so very long ago, I was a mom who had two little kids.  I started my homeschooling journey and I was able to do so much with my little crew of two.  We finger-painted, read stories, did music time, did nature walks, and all of those other wonderful mommy-child moments that  we all seem to feel make up an idyllic early childhood. Continue reading

How I Use Singapore Math

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-18-58-pmI have a love/hate relationship history with Singapore Math.  It has really been awesome for my kids (and for me) to learn math the Singapore way.  I was always really good at math, but it has been shocking to see my mental math improvements over the last few years as I have taught my kids through this math program.  But it isn’t as easy to use as some other programs would have been, and there have been quite a few crisis moments when I thought I would throw the books out the window and grab something easier to use.   Continue reading

Vacation–to school or not to school

img_5468Whenever we go on vacation it is hard to know how much school to bring.  Should we bring any at all?  In my experience, it is a lot harder to get back into the groove of schooling after a vacation if we didn’t do anything while we were gone.  It usually takes the first week back to get into the routine of chores, instruments, and then school work again.  We get a little better each day, but a vacation of two weeks can turn into a three week loss if I don’t put in a little effort while we are gone. Continue reading

Home Painting Lessons


This is Anna’s Aurora Borealis painting that she did last week by following an art tutorial from the youtube channel called, “The Art Sherpa.”

We live in a great time to homeschool or “afterschool.”  There are tons of resources that are available so that you really can give a first-class education at home (even if your own was less than superb).  I had worried about teaching art at home since I stopped taking art classes fairly early in my own education because of my interest in music.  (Isn’t it sad that schools funnel you into one art form or another?  I love that my kids don’t have to make the choice between 1st period orchestra class or 1st period pottery like I did.) Continue reading