Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Latin; 'Every lesson in Latin is a lesson in Logic'

As Catholic home educators, Latin (and occasionally, Greek) are usually priorities for children to study and learn.
Latin is so fundamental to correct English grammar that it is helpful to learn from approximately 8years onwards as a solid foundation to a child's English language learning. Even if no official qualifications take place, it will remain a great asset to the child's formation and widen their vocabulary tenfold. This is why so many modern day curriculums base their philosophies within the 'classical' sphere.

Many home educators whether following the American curriculums who form their courses and materials upon the 'classical' subjects, or those studying for the UK exam system, will incorporate Latin, and Greek to follow, into their student's timetable.

There are numerous Latin courses, and depending upon the child and the parental knowledge of Latin, will depend on how far the child progresses.
If there is a desire to just become 'familiar' with the language there are courses both Catholic and secular which are quite simple to use and progress into more depth as the student learns.

For a Catholic Latin course many home educators enjoy 'Latina Christiana' however be aware this is Church Latin and different to the Latin found in the GCSE course!


Our 8year old son has recently begun this course knowing no Latin before, and is coming along nicely and  he enjoys learning a new language.
Of course, as mentioned previously, if it aids his English grammar/vocabulary and teaches him to view his work in a logical and ordered manner, this will be a great benefit in his future learning skills.

For a secular start in Latin many home educators use 'Minimus' ;


For more advanced study, and this will again depend upon the child's competence and background of Latin, 'Henle' is an excellent resource and used widely amongst Catholics;


Again, this is Church Latin, so one would need to be aware when then studying the GCSE Latin course.
It is comprehensive and popular and usually begun at around age 11/12yrs.

Other home educators,especially those considering the Latin GCSE, mostly use the Cambridge series who have been updated and improved over the past three or four years, but are not as in depth as texts like Henle;


This is a detailed and helpful website and there are text books available for A level Latin and Greek too.

My two older children both sat Latin GCSE in the summer; they did another text called 'Olim' which had been written by two Professors who were personal friends of their tutor (it concentrated finely on the grammar)  and they also used the Cambridge as this is what the GCSE calls for.

http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/subjects/latin/  -All the examinations offered by OCR.

OCR board offers GCSE Latin and Greek. The standard is pretty high to attain an 'A' grade and there is an abundance of literature as well as historical type questions.

http://virdrinksbeer.com/page11.htm - Help with Latin GCSE work.

As Catholic home educators it is a joy to see children learn and study Latin and a great shame it is not offered more widely here in England in schools should they want to go on to study it.
Some private schools offer Latin at A level but this is not affordable for many so children will miss out on this ancient and beautiful language.

Studying Latin at A level standard from home may well be one of the only choices - this is something we're having to consider for our daughter, however the costs mount up tremendously as at that level 4 to 5 hours of lessons are required per week!

The Open University also offer Latin courses which is a viable option for some;


Again, the costs involved may not be feasible...

Latin; the Alma Mater of all languages!

St Jerome, Patron of Latinists.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Educating older children

As we have a 16 yr old son, Ben, who has just entered the school system for the very first time, it has been interesting, and intriguing to hear of what other Catholic families have chosen for their teens too.
Every child is different and hence will require varied ways of learning and teaching so school most definitely won't be for everyone. I think it is a great leap of faith and prayed very fervently about whether this was God's will for Ben. Going into the 'world' is a staggering change, yet it is an essential one too and we felt it was what God wanted.

Ben has only completed three days of school (!) so it isn't clear yet whether he truly likes it, will enjoy the four AS subjects he's studying or whether the teaching standard is acceptable or not.
The whole debut into school has been emotionally wrought; it is definitely tough to 'let go' a little and hand his education over to strangers after being in control of everything he learns at home.

One has to suddenly be open to other people's opinions being thrust upon their child and ways of teaching or even the way in which they are spoken to in another environment away from the family, and don't start me on peer pressure, something we have all been avidly avoiding for so many years! I think it will take us all a while to become accustomed to this change. I have gone through all the natural anxieties (probably at an elevated level knowing myself!) ; Will he fall into the 'wrong crowd'? , what will they be discussing at break time? will he stand up for his beliefs if attacked? will he use his time diligently? will he go to the chip shop instead of eating his home made lunch? and finally, but one of the most important questions, will he actually learn anything worthwhile?

Our decision for Ben to go to sixth form is purely academic; he chose to study A levels and I feel unqualified to teach them, plus I have five other young children to home educate and nurture.
Ben did say to me it it isn't ideal but it is the best way he can foresee to attain the A levels he needs for his possible career in the RAF.

So, did he enjoy his first three days at school after being home educated for 11years? I would say; so far so good.
He will hopefully take what he needs and leave the rest, although he has admitted to strangely liking the bell which alerts him class is finished and to make haste to the next one...order and discipline are obviously suiting him which can never be a negative attribute!

It would be wonderful to hear where other older home educated children are going next? Boarding school, college, sixth form...do share experiences!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

IGCSE (Sciences for one) are much more demanding than GCSEs

I do not think it can be accentuated enough that the IGCSEs are more rigorous than the GCSEs taught in most schools.
Apart from a few prestigious private schools, the majority of schools only offer GCSEs.

It is disappointing that such distinctively different courses can be regarded as equal by further education colleges, state schools (who were not granted the funding for them), some Universities and other areas of education.

Using science as an example; if one finds this subject a challenging one, then they can opt for the 'double award' GCSE in school instead of the more ambitious 'triple award'.

I came across this extremely informative article on the intensity of the IGCSE Sciences;


and it reaffirmed to me just how incomparable they are to the GCSE.

In hindsight I wish I had urged my son to not battle through these three exams, but to have been content with one science (he took IGCSE Biology a year early) and concentrated on the subjects he excelled in instead.

A friend and fellow home educator, Sam Martell, is devising the Double Award Science (and also the Triple Award) IGCSE course for home educated children.


 She explained to me it is not as intensive as sitting the three single IGCSEs and the Edexcel board only has two papers. This sounds more accessible (although still challenging) for the student who is keen to study the sciences but has no grand ideas for studying medicine!

For those who are dedicated towards a medical career, then the single IGCSEs would be a valuable prerequisite to further studying.