Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations classical education living lessons

Latin in Our Homeschool (with Angela Reed)

Have you wondered about including Latin in your homeschool? We’ve had both highs and lows in our own family’s experience studying Latin, so when Karen Glass recommended I speak with Angela Reed, I was eager to hear her perspective. Angela loves classics and Latin and that joy is evident! She also teaches Latin classes designed especially for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Regardless of your educational philosophy (and even regardless of your interest in Latin), I know you will be encouraged by our conversation. Angela made me smile the whole time!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations

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Who is Angela Reed?

Angela Reed is a homeschooling mother to five living in the sunny state of Florida. A former classroom teacher, degreed in Classics and Latin and persuaded by Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, she channels her enthusiasms into “Living Latin Lessons”—live Latin classes designed for CM homeschoolers. You can find out more at athenaeumamidstthereeds.com and connect with her on Instagram, where she shares about Latin’s place in a CM education @thecmlatinproject, and documents family life and homeschooling @athena_amidstthereeds.

Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations

Watch my conversation with Angela Reed

https://youtu.be/NiloswSO8qw

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Amy Sloan: Hello, everyone. Today, I am joined by Angela Reed, who is a homeschooling mother to five, living in the sunny State of Florida. A former classroom teacher, degreed in Classics and Latin, and persuaded by Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, she channels her enthusiasms into Living Latin Lessons, live Latin classes designed for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. You can find out more at athenaeumamidstthereeds.com and connect with her on Instagram. She shares about Latin’s place in Charlotte Mason Education at the CM Latin Project and documents family life and homeschooling at Athena Amidst the Reeds.

I’ll have all those links in the show notes for this episode. Would you just start Angela by telling us a little bit about yourself, and your family, and how you came to begin homeschooling?

Angela Reed: You mentioned we live in Florida. I used to think, “How do I escape, it’s so hot here!” Actually, it’s interesting as I’ve moved into motherhood and settled in- I live in Gainesville. It’s a college town. It’s about an hour from Ocala where I grew up. There’s a lot more culture around here. There are things that the university brings in, there’s an intellectual life. There are all sorts of interesting people that live here too, and because of homeschooling, I began to get out of the house and make a point of getting out into nature. Doing that, it just gives me a connection to home, and to see Florida as home, and to feel pride in this place where I live, and the things that make it unique and special, which are not the things that everyone comes to Florida for.

There is Orlando, going to see the Mouse. There are the beaches, which are lovely. But there are so many other things about living here that I’ve integrated into my life and into my identity as a Floridian. It’s been a part of my child’s upbringing or my children’s upbringing here as well. We’re active. We like to do a lot of outdoor things.

I was a teacher before, so I’ve always had this passion for education and for Latin in particular because that was what got my motor running in school when I was a student. When I grew up, I just thought, “How do I keep doing exactly the same thing that I’m doing? I love learning, and I want to keep learning. I will become a teacher, and I will just get to have an excuse to learn things all the time and enjoy that lifestyle of learning.”

Then you take that up a level, and then you’re homeschooling and you’re full immersion in the living lifestyle. Fortunately, my husband has come along with us on that. He’s a big supporter of our homeschool and I can’t imagine doing it any other way. It’s been great. We’ve been married for about 17 years. His name is David. He’s a counselor. In an interesting way, we balance each other. I take care of the educational part, and he helps take care of the emotional, mental health part. We both have this desire to work with people outside of the home, and those are our gifts and our talents that we have as a family and as a couple. [laughs] I go to him for counseling.

Amy: Can every homeschool family have their own live-in counselor? That would be great. Thanks.

Angela: Oh yes. We all need it. It’s needed. I do have a counselor outside of my husband too. He’s a big advocate of– he has a counselor and I have a counselor, and so it’s really, really helpful to have a person to talk to who’s not in the bubble that you live to help you work through the things that you’re going through. This year with the pandemic, and some things with my extended family and aging parents, there’s just been a lot of challenges. I actually had an appointment with my counselor this morning, so I’m feeling nice and refreshed [laughs] to be here with you today. I’ve had my therapy.

Amy:  I know I hadn’t asked this when I had contacted you before, but if you think to send me links, either that you could share, or your husband if someone is looking for a counselor in their own area. I know that there are so many moms and dads in that who need that person that they can talk to who’s outside of the family who can give them an objective perspective, and also just be a person in a safe place to talk and share what’s on your heart. Maybe we can include those links.

Angela: All right.

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Amy: Well, Angela, you mentioned, or I mentioned in the bio that you are a Charlotte Mason mom. Have you always been drawn to Charlotte Mason philosophy, or how did that journey begin in your homeschool?

Angela: I never realized that I would become a homeschooler. I just assumed that I would become a mom at some point, and then I would put my kids into whatever school I was working at. I’ve worked in all sorts of school situations. I’ve worked online and teaching for Florida Virtual. I’ve worked at a rural county school, and then I came into Gainesville and worked at a local Classical School. I’ve had all sorts of interesting experiences. Right before I became a mom, I was at the Classical School and I thought, “Oh, this is a great community. I would definitely put my kids in this school.” As it got closer to that time, I became a mom.

I took some time off from teaching full-time and began to think about reentering teaching. I got an invitation to teach for one of these homeschool communities where people– They’re very popular. I don’t want to name any names, but I was invited to teach Latin for a community. Part of the invitation was to enroll my child in their program. It’s one of these that has a wait list. I was like, “Oh yes. It’s good to have Latin. It’s a way in the door, foot in the door.” Actually, this was a homeschool group and wonderful community. It gave me some training wheels because I just had no idea how to teach my young children.

Even though I teach Latin, I used to look at something like reading and I was like, “Oh my goodness. How do you handle teaching a child to read? There are so many things that are happening.” It’s like, “Give me a middle schooler, give me a high schooler, college student, I can teach them Latin.” I was very intimidated by the prospect of teaching this very foundational information to my children. Anyway, I enrolled in the program and it was great the first year, but by the second year I was looking at it I’m like, “Oh, I don’t want to just focus on memorizing lists of information. Let’s bring in some poetry, let’s bring in some literature, let’s make this more contextual and more whole.

I was crossing off memory work and I realized I don’t need to be paying for a program that is not working fully for me. Late one night, searching, trying to think of what I’m going to do, I came across Charlotte Mason, her ideas on the internet, and I found AmblesideOnline. Then, you descend into the rabbit hole [laughs] and it just keeps going and going. I knew right away that this is the thing that my heart had been inclined toward my entire life. She was describing the type of education that resonated most strongly with me as I was growing up.

Even though I didn’t have a Charlotte Mason Education, I think we can think of it in terms of what a Living Education is. It’s one that connects you. It helps you form relationships, and it connects you to the world, it connects you to God, to truth and goodness and beauty. All the educational experiences I had had growing up that were the pinnacle of my educational experience, I would describe those as living educational experiences. That was what Charlotte Mason was after and what she was describing. It all centered around her understanding of the nature of the child, and who we are as human beings, and how we lean into the way we were designed, and honor who God made us to be. All of that, just finding these guiding principles, it gave me a direction and it gave me the courage to leave this pre-structured program and be able to move forward on my own because that’s what it meant.

Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations

That’s what it means in a lot of places because there aren’t a lot of Charlotte Mason communities that are established.

Here I’ve had a book study for several years here and I’ve invited my friends. There have been some ladies I’ve been studying with, although with C0VID, we’ve taken a break from that but just going on this journey, seeing this as a long-term effort and being willing to supplement with– I’m a part of a co-op, actually, I’m not, it’s more like a community umbrella where they give you things like spelling bees and field days. There’s these optional activities you can be a part of.

I plug in things like that for community but for the most part, we’re doing it on our own. It’s challenging, but I wouldn’t go back to what we were doing before, because I believe that what we’re doing is helping form souls and it’s just so vital and so valuable. I am all in. I’m fully committed and it’s just so wonderful although sometimes a little lonely when you don’t have like a community that’s holding you up in those principles.

Amy: I can relate to that so much in our own experience. I am a second-generation homeschooler, and I have sometimes said my mom was classically educating before it was cool, but in a very Charlotte Mason classical way of approaching things. I remember her often giving For the Children’s Sake to new homeschool moms when they said, “How should I homeschool?” She’d be like, “Here, start with this book.” That was my experience with education and that is what I want for my own children. It can be so wonderful because I am fully convinced and delighted in the education that we’re doing, but it can be hard when you’re like, “Doesn’t anyone else want to do this fun adventure? “

Angela: Oh, my goodness. I identify with that so much, yes.

Amy: I’m thankful for online resources and those are good and I’m thankful for them, but it’s not quite the same as hanging out in the living room with friends.

Angela: Yes. Agreed. I have spent my time in the online communities and in building community, and I have lots of friends on Instagram. These were the people that I sought out in the very beginning of my Charlotte Mason journey because I wanted to know how do I do this and help me and be my friend. I made lots of friends and I am so thankful for them, but my hunger is for real, tangible community here. It’s hard to wait because I guess you just know your heart knows what it wants, and you have to also make that work with the reality that you inhabit. That’s why we plug in things, sports things and all, but I keep praying and hoping that God will grow the community here in this area because nothing beats real people in real life.

Amy: Yes. There’s only so many if you’re trying to do a Shakespeare play in your living room, there’s only so many people in my family, we need more people.

Angela: Yes.

Where do we find our identity as moms and home educators?

Amy: Angela, one of the things, as I was looking over your website, and I don’t know if I mentioned this at the beginning but Karen Glass actually had recommended that I speak to you. I was like, “Oh, let me check out this lady’s website,” and while scrolling I just loved, there was a little blurb at the bottom and it was titled ‘Once upon a time.’ Anyone who’s listening to this can go check that out. As I read that little paragraph, I just resonated so much. It reminded me of so much of my own life experience, fellow firstborn, fellow idolater of accomplishments and a fellow mum of five who’s facing those limitations and just the realities of day-to-day life.

Something I talk a lot about humility and doxology, is this idea of identity, where are we finding our identity as moms and especially as home educators? Would you mind telling me a little bit about the story behind that, I guess that life journey that you described there?

Angela: Yes. It’s an ongoing life journey. Let me tell you in fact, this morning with my counselor, uncovering some of these lies that I unconsciously believe, the lie that I need to please everybody. The lie that I need to do everything I can perfectly in order to please people. I’m trying to do a lot of work in this area and I’m inviting God to help me disbelieve these lies that I’ve absorbed over my life. Yes, I think firstborn children come by this very easily. We’re leading the way, there are siblings watching.

Amy: We’re going to accomplish all the things.

Angela: Yes, we’re going to make them proud. I thrived as a firstborn. I was the son that my father waited for, for years and years and years. When he finally did get a son, the number four, his fourth child, but for the longest time I was the boy, I was the one that he was proud of. I played the sports. I was going to do the hard classes. He was the one that encouraged me to take Latin because I didn’t know what it was. I started when I was 15. How’s that for going against the grain of help people feel compelled to start as early as possible? It was the challenge. I was up for the challenge because my dad was proud of me, and I would make him proud if I continued.

All of that, as I got older, as I got into college and into my adult life, I began to really crash again. I was crashing against the reality that you can’t please everybody, it doesn’t matter how hard you try. Some people are just not going to like you, or they’re not going to like what you represent for whatever reason. It may have something to do with experiences they’ve gone through in their life. I would say probably that the singular event that really brought this idea home to me about needing redemption from this sin of perfectionism and people-pleasing was I lost a job, and it was not because I was doing a bad job.

I lost a job because I was really good at it, but there was no place for me because– the short story is, I worked and this is the job at the rural school where I worked, country school. I worked there for a year and I taught English and reading, but I really wanted to teach Latin. Somebody said, “Hey, that sounds great. Why don’t you teach Latin? You have the certification.” I did, and we did a Latin club and we did all these fun things. At the end of the year, the board and all the people, the administrators that make the decisions, they look at the money and they look at textbooks and where the money needs to go, they’re like, “Latin, what are our kids who most of whom are going to go work in the local prison, what do our kids need Latin for? That’s a waste of money.”

My kids rallied, my students rallied and they went and talked to the board and all of this and created a fuss and eventually, they just let me go because they didn’t want to continue the program. It just wasn’t in the interest of the corporate body to do Latin. As wonderful as I think it is and as wonderful as my children, my students began to appreciate it for and that actually devastated me because I worked so hard. I loved it. I loved my students. I poured everything and this was before I was a mom. I poured all the motherhood energy that I had, pre-motherhood energy into this job.

When I was let go from it, I was so crashed and my identity, speaking of identity, my identity was all wrapped up in that and entangled in being the Latin teacher that just tried to do everything so great. I had a hard summer and I spiraled. I would say it was a bit of an identity crisis. I got to understand what that involved. It took a long time to heal from that and to come to terms with the true problem, which was not my lack of effort, but just that I had placed my hope and my identity, I’d wrapped it all up in the wrong thing rather than in Christ as being a child of God, and approaching the tasks of my day with that as the forefront thing in my mind.

I went on from there and I took another job and I was a part of another community, another teaching community. We all have this journey and we learned so much, not only from our successes but from our failures. Though it was hard to go through I think it was an important step for me.

I know that I’ll fall flat on my face more in the future but that was pivotal for me. It began the process of reorienting my identity toward my Maker, rather than the things that I can do as an accomplisher.

Amy: Doesn’t God demonstrate his love towards us when he strips away those things that we were putting our identity, again, it’s so painful. It’s not very pleasant but it’s because he loves us and he wants us to find our identity in what he has done and who he is. I don’t know if you know Missy Andrews from Center for Lit or if you have ever read anything by her?

Angela: I’m familiar with Center for Lit but I don’t know who she is.

Amy: Well, I have to advise you and anyone listening to listen to my chat with Missy. It was in, I think actually an early season, maybe season one but she recently published a memoir called My Divine Comedy. She’s graduated five, six children now from her home school. I loved my conversation with her. She describes this as performancism, and realizing how putting her identity and her work as a homeschool mom, like these children that she was going to create and they were going to be these things to demonstrate her righteousness essentially. How harmful that was for her relationship with her children, for her relationship with God, and even for their homeschool. It’s a beautiful memoir.

I really recommend the book and obviously listening to the Homeschool Conversations Podcast episode, too. Missy is just a delight. I think that a lot of homeschool moms, a lot of us in general because we’re human, but in particular I see that in the homeschool community where we can wrap our identity up in our work as a homeschool mom, even, which seems like a good thing but when a good thing becomes disordered, it’s no longer such a good thing.

Missy Andrews Center for Lit My Divine Comedy interview

Coming to love and learn Latin

Well, changing gears a little bit let’s chat about Latin. I’m so excited to talk to you about this. I started taking Latin a little bit off and on maybe middle school-ish or so and then took it in high school. I had some not-so-good experiences and some really great experiences. I was able to take for a couple of semesters in college from one of the editors of Wheelock’s Latin and that just was probably–

Angela: Oh, my goodness.

Amy: Yes, that was probably one of the highlights.

Angela: That’s so cool.

Amy: Of course. Do you know Dr. Briggs?

Angela: I don’t know.

Amy: Anyway.

Angela: It’s such a small world because it’s like those celebrities in the Latin world, which is a teeny tiny little world. So cool.

[laughter]

Amy: That was so fun, like one of my favorite things that I did in that year of college. I’m really excited to talk to you about Latin because I think now as I look at my own kids, I’m like, “There are some things I’ve done really well and some things I’ve ruined everything already.”

[laughter]

Amy: Tell me your story with Latin. You mentioned a little bit, why you got started. Did you love it right away? Did you know you wanted to teach it? Tell me everything.

Angela: I started in 10th grade. I actually had been homeschooled during my middle school year, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade because I just was appalled at the world and begged my parents to put me in private school or someplace other than middle school. Funny that that’s my favorite age to teach, too. I entered into high school, my local public school, and I wanted to play softball. That was the main thing I was involved in sports and I loved softball, the drills and the practice, and the strategy. Of course, it makes sense now that I’m thinking about it, Latin is drills and practice and strategy. [laughs] I enrolled in Latin per my Dad’s saying this would be the hardest one, and wouldn’t that be a fun challenge?

Latin looks good on your college transcripts. All the wrong reasons. [laughs] All the utilitarian reasons. I enrolled not really knowing what I was getting myself into but I loved it. I loved it. I joined the Latin club because it was extra credits. The first event that we attended was a regional competition. It was just incredible. It’s not just going and taking a test on Latin knowledge, its history, and costuming and orations and athletic events like Olympic events, and creative things like doing models of architectural structures in ancient Greece and Rome. There’s just anything you can think of that is connected with the ancient Roman world was all like what this event was all about.

I went to that and I was just like, “This is the most amazing thing in the world.” It was so much fun and I found other Latin students and they weren’t weird. They were fun. I was like, “I found my people. I found my people.” That was the beginning of a love affair. I will say this too as a type A, well, I’m not really type A, but I think I was perfectionistic, especially then a leaning type A, what am I? I used to know what I was, and then it became a mother and everything got all muddled and crazy. I tend to be more of an orderly logical person but then, of course, my emotions and my feeling, this just makes me like spontaneity. Now, I’ve distracted myself.

[laughter]

Angela: Where was I? [laughs]

Amy: Let’s see. You found your people at the Latin club.

Angela: Yes. I actually really loved the paradigm. The Latin that I took was very grammatical. There are several different approaches to Latin and the predominant approach through most of like the 19– Well, no, I would say it goes back to the 1800s. It’s been around a long time but you see it a lot in homeschool curriculum. You see this grammar first approach where you’re memorizing charts of endings or you’re chanting endings, and you’re getting those tables, those paradigms in your head, and then you’re analyzing and parsing all the words. All of that is a part of Latin but I didn’t mind it.

I thought it was really interesting because you could order everything and everything made sense. It was very rational. It would appeal to that side of me. However, the deficit is that by the time I got to college, I took three years in high school. I took two years off of Latin and I took biblical Greek in college for one year. Then I went enrolled at the university here in Gainesville, the University of Florida. That’s when I picked up my Latin studies again. Then a few semesters, it was very apparent to me that I was very slow and I had not learned as much as I needed to have learned. I had to do a lot of work in college to get caught up.

Part of that is because I didn’t know how to read Latin. I could analyze a sentence, I could parse it, I could break it down but that’s such backbreaking work and it’s super, super slow. I had received one end, the accuracy end, of a Latin education, but I had not received the fluency end. I had not done much reading at all. Anyway, what I do now as a teacher is, I tend to try and bring these things together because I emphasize a reading approach, and then bring in the grammar for my students along the way as we go through.

To me, it’s very, very important that students learn how to read it because that’s how you get meaning.

It’s because you get meaning that you connect with the text, you connect with its author, and you gain something that’s interesting and that’s relational and that’s of value. I didn’t get that until I got to the literature after much, much work of having to rehabilitate my approach to Latin. Regardless, I still loved high school Latin. It wasn’t bad in any way. I just didn’t realize how much I was leaning into my own native talents rather than actually doing the work, and excelling in learning to read Latin. That’s how I got into it and that’s a short history, I think. Does that answer the question?

Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations

Amy: Yes. I will never forget the first time my professor, we had our reader and he said, “You’re not allowed to translate this ahead of time. You can’t write out the translation, if you want to make a couple of little notes to yourself in the margins, that’s fine.” Then when we sit and it was just me and two other students. It was a very tiny class, and we would sit there and we would have to just read it, and on the fly, give a good English translation. At first, I was again thinking, “I have to do it right. I have to do this perfectly.” I was very disoriented by that at first. Then I was like, “Oh, well, this is the point of Latin… to be able to read the Latin.”

Every once in a while, I will do that. I was doing that with my daughter actually last week with a history reading that she had in Latin. I was like, “Now don’t translate it out ahead of time. You can look over it and see if there’s a word you’re not sure what it means.” Then we sat and went through it together. It was an interesting experience.

Angela: It was so valuable. I never encountered that until I got to college. We’re talking my first two years I’d taken off and then third year in college that I encountered a Latin text and my professor would put it up on the overhead projector, back in the day [laughs] 20 years ago, the 20-year-old technology. He put it on the overhead projector and he would have a text and it was written out– Like thoughts at a time, so a line, a line, a line and he’d cover up the bottom. He just moved the paper down so you get a line at a time. That was his way of training us in the skill of what is called sight-reading, getting comfortable with just seeing the Latin.

We would have looked it over in advance, we would have prepared, but like you said, you don’t write out a translation. You can put some notes to yourself on the side, but you’re not allowed to read a translation. You are to look at the screen and you’re supposed to work out the Latin on the fly like that. It’s so, so valuable and definitely something I’ve been intent upon remedying for my future students because I realized that it was a severe handicap that I had to overcome when I got to academic Latin as a college student.

How to include Latin in our homeschool

Amy: I can imagine a mom listening to this and thinking like, “Wait a minute, I’m fine if I have to answer key with the easy to figure out things, but what you’re describing feels difficult to do at home.” Let’s think about homeschooling Latin in general. Are there ways in which we typically approach Latin that you think are unhelpful? If we want to include Latin in our homeschools, where should we begin? Especially if there’s a mom who’s like, “I never took Latin. It’s easy for you ladies to say you have at least a minimal background on my part.” For someone who’s totally new, but wants to include it in their homeschool.

Angela: That is the dilemma of homeschool Latin, is there are curriculums that were written with the homeschool mom in mind, who just needs to be able to follow a guide and see the answer key and be able to correct the answers. There is a true need because unlike in Charlotte Mason’s Day, where most middle-class, educated people had a background in Latin, even if they weren’t Latin teachers, they had had Latin, it was a part of their education. They could naturally look over their child’s Latin work and assist with that because it was just a part of– it was like math. As much as we know math and we’re able to help our children with arithmetic, that was what Latin used to be.

We’re attempting to recover something and regain a foothold in something that has been lost to us over time. That is generational work. I’ve heard this expressed in other ways in other places. It’s not going to happen in a single lifetime, but there are excellent resources available that bring together a grammatical approach and a reading approach. I think it’s very important that any curriculum that you choose is living in that way, that has as its aim, that the child encounters Latin as a language and not just charts, and forms, and tables, and mental gymnastics. I think that tends to be the default because that’s manageable. That’s easy to check off and is this right? Is it wrong? You go through the list. I have several on my bookshelf. I think I’ll grab them.

Don’t start Latin too early

One curriculum– Well, actually, before I go to curriculum, let me just say, things that I think people maybe missed steps that they make in starting with Latin. I think that was the first part of your question. I think the first one is starting too early. I’ve seen this a lot. I saw this at the Classical School where I worked, is sometimes people, they think, “If I start early as possible, then my child will learn Latin.” What I have seen, again and again, is that children that begin in second and third grade, when they’re still learning how to read fluently, they’re still learning how to write, to bring Latin into that child at that stage– it’s not bad per se, but by the time they get to sixth and seventh grade, and they’re really getting into the logical aspect of working out the Latin language, some of these children have been chanting tables and chanting forms for years, and they’re still bored with it.

There’s a real loss of enthusiasm and freshness that happens when you’ve been regurgitating forms for years because that’s one particular approach is that you just co-parrot everything until you know it, and then eventually, you get to the part where you use it and you understand it in context. My feeling is that, wait until your child is a good reader, has some grammar under their belt because there’s a lot of grammar in Latin and you need to be able to talk about it grammatically. Honestly, I think middle school is a great time to start, but it’s not too late to wait until high school either because if you wait, nothing is lost.

You don’t want to start too early with a curriculum for a child who’s not ready, and potentially extinguish any flame of interest before. I think, and I’ve seen this with my own children, there seems to be a shift in the way that they perceive the world around 11, 12, where they begin to think of language as a thing. My oldest is 12 and all of a sudden, he has this awareness of language as something he can manipulate and he can analyze. He sees the connections between English words and Latin words, and he’s doing that on his own now, and he’s making jokes. That’s another thing, making verbal jokes is a reflection of a shift that says, “Oh, language. I can make humor through manipulating the language.”

These things happen unconsciously. My son didn’t wake up and say, “I’m going to make a joke.” It’s just there’s almost like this shift that happens intellectually in people. They get to a certain age and they begin to think more abstractly about things. I think having that shift or approaching that shift is a great time to begin the study of Latin, but not before there’s a good understanding of English and particularly, a good foundation in some grammar.

Amy: I’ll just say my firstborn was a very precocious, twice-exceptional kind of child. Very early on, he was reading crazy early and he was super excited about all this math stuff. I was just so excited to like, “Oh, we’re going to do Latin” because it was just so much fun. He did great with it. It was great. He continued on and advanced quickly. He’s finished Latin three. It was great. He was good at it. I was like, “Great, well, I’m just going to do that same thing with my next kids.” Now, I have some of my younger children that I have seen this year, in particular. They’re groaning. They’re just, “I don’t like Latin.” I was like, “Okay.” I stepped way back with what we were doing instead of pushing through. We’re just doing things a lot differently this year with them, in particular. So not necessarily that what I did with my son was bad or wrong because it worked well for him.

Angela: It worked for him, yes.

Amy: To try to put that on these other children who like you were saying, they were just not ready for that. There are other things developmentally that they’re trying to work on, and it defeats that purpose just for the sake of saying, “Well, we’re going to do it early. We’re going to get started with Latin.” It defeats the purpose if they hate it because I don’t want them to just do the translations, finish the book and be like, “Phew, glad that’s over.” I want it to be something that they enjoy and they love. Yes, learn from my mistakes, everyone.

[laughter]

Angela: I was going to say, that’s an important thing within a Charlotte Mason paradigm as well is that there is very little accomplished through drudgery. We can’t always make every subject their favorite subject. They will have some subjects that are their favorites and others that they’re like, “Arg.” Ms. Mason talks about initiating a broad range of interests. Our job, as homeschoolers, is to merely initiate, give them the opportunity, give them the exposure, and then they have it, they will have had a taste of it. They will have had an experience of it. They will love it or they may not love it, but we don’t have the right to deprive them of it because we personally don’t like it, or we don’t want to be bothered.

We just introduce it to them. We give them the opportunity. Some child, one child may go on to become a Latin scholar because they loved it so much. Somebody else might just love the mythology and they love translating the stories and that’s what they gleaned from it, and they go on to become a literature teacher, or maybe a homeschooling mother who has this storehouse of stories to share that were her favorite stories growing up.

The big thing is if it’s a huge drudgery and you get the complaining, the moaning, that’s when it’s time for reassessments. As you felt, as you experienced, is like something with the association with Latin here is out of harmony with what we’re aiming towards. Do we need to adjust the atmosphere? Do we need to change the discipline? Are we getting these life-feeding ideas from the experience because Mason says that all of our subjects not just– There’re certain subjects that even Latin should be life-giving and so there should be life. There should be rich ideas that come to the child in their Latin lessons.

If they’re starving for ideas, then that’s an indication that something needs to change. My contention is that we need to have stories and we need to get them reading the literature as quickly as we can. Mason, by the time students were 12, so they’ve had at this point a year or two of Latin, they were beginning to read simple, adapted stories like Aesop’s Fables in Latin. They were getting into these ideas and they were seeing, “This is a language, there’s a story here.” That in itself is compelling because once you get reading a story, you want to see what happens next, so you’re willing to stick with it and do the effort to get to the end of the story. That’s where those ideas come in and we want to try and feed our children those ideas in Latin, as in the other subjects too.

Amy: Definitely, don’t tell my children, but that was one of the reasons why I picked our memory work in January. In our morning time, we love to include poetry and Shakespeare and speeches and things like that. We were doing the first few lines of the Aeneid. We did it in English and in Latin.

We found a really fun YouTube video where someone was reciting it with all the correct– I’m really bad at remembering which syllable is supposed to have the accent. It was like, “Let’s just listen to this person,” and everyone would get into dramatically saying it in the living room.” It was a way for me to show without telling them, because if I told them that would have spoiled it, but for them to just find something that was joyful and worth loving in the Latin, which hopefully, I will be able to redeem in the years ahead.

Angela: I love that idea. What an excellent way to bring into technology to assist you to give to your children what you– in your experience, to get a professional reader just to read it. You guys have the context, you have the text, the Aeneid, you’re familiar with the story, but to bring it to life in that way and bring in these other elements of the acting and the dramatics. That’s a perfect example of the thing that I was describing. That’s just one idea, there’s bunches of ideas, but that’s a great one.

Latin in our Homeschool Charlotte Mason Angela Reed Homeschool Conversations

A few of Angela’s Latin curriculum recommendations

Amy: I think earlier, you mentioned that there were a couple textbooks or programs, curriculum that you recommend. Are there any that you could mention here? You can feel free to get them if you want.

Angela: Yes. I’ll go grab them because I have some favorites. Here’s the thing about curriculum, I get asked about curriculum a lot. I get emails and messages from people saying, “This is my situation and what do you recommend?” It is an individual scenario that one has to consider. There’s no one size fits all curriculums like, “Use this and it is like Charlotte Mason and you will never have any problems.” It’s not that way at all. Each family has their own– the way they approach education, the talents, and personalities of the children, all those things have to be considered.

Also, what can mom handle? Does she want to be completely involved and handle and grad it and do all of that? Other moms just say, “I just need something simple, and we open and go.” There has to be respect for that sort of flexibility and the needs there are very broad. The ones I’m going to share with you are all curricula that I think lend themselves to a Charlotte Mason approach to Latin. A Charlotte Mason approach to Latin is a living approach to Latin. The emphasis is not on memorizing tables and cramming information.

The simple way to think of it is it’s not a parts to whole approach, it is a whole to parts approach. You approach the literature first.

You’re approaching passages, you’re learning to read and you’re getting grammar along the way. There are more details I found. I was given an article from a friend, Charlotte Mason poetry, and I recently had the opportunity to study this article. It was not one I’d ever come across, but it’s an actual article from the 1930s that talks about what the approach was to Latin in the schools that adopted Mason’s principles and methods. That was super exciting for me, and I shared recently about that in their podcast. I might include that in the show notes as well. If people are wanting to know what is a Charlotte Mason approach to Latin, this article really explains it in three principles. What homework looks like, what the approach is, and the goal to read the literature, that is the goal.

Anyway, all right, that said, because Charlotte Mason is all philosophy first. You have to have the right approach first, and then you bring in the curriculum and the curriculum is a tool to help you implement the philosophy.

All right, here’s one that I really love for people that want to have an interactive Latin experience. I Speak Latin, Latine Loquor this is by Andrew Campbell. You can find it online. This is a scripted approach to Latin. It utilizes the ear and the mouth, and physical response. It’s very interactive, and you can do it with the whole family. Like I said, it’s scripted.

There’s a website that gives you tips for pronunciation and all of that. I’ve done it with my children ranging from 11, all the way down to 2 and they all respond, they all absorb language through the ear, just like we do when we were children growing up. This is a really fun one and I like to recommend this if mom wants to do family lessons, and is not concerned about breaking out older children separately.

Amy: Sounds like a good option for a morning basket too.

Angela: Yes. It would work very well for that. They’re short lessons and I just think it’s incredibly well supported. I’m really pleased with this. I think it’s a great introduction to Latin. That’s a good one for beginners and for a family. Let’s see.

This one is another popular one, Minimus, it is produced by Cambridge, which is another Latin text. It’s not really in the homeschool world, per se, but it’s in line with Mason’s principles for teaching Latin with passages and things. This one has cartoons, and dialogue and grammatical explanation. My understanding is that the teacher’s guide is very expensive, but it might be helpful if you know nothing about Latin to get that.

It’s got supplementary resources and things as well, but this is also a good approach. I recommend this for I’d say fourth and fifth grade, so upper elementary. If you want to begin and this is going to form a piece of your school day, then this is a good one for that age group. Let’s see.

I would say this one also. I like this one a lot. This is First Latin, a language discovery program. Again, if you’re wanting to give your child something to prepare them for Latin, a little bit of Latin, this is a workbook style, but it’s super well done. It covers mythology and derivatives and numbers and all the interests. It brings together all the relations, the classroom, here’s one.

It’s very– here you go- it’s very contextual

I think this would be good. If you’re still working on grammar and you’re not ready to begin a formal Latin curriculum, I think this is a good one for getting your toe in and giving it a try and in a fun and enjoyable way. It is profitable, I will say that you learn a lot through the process and it’s a very good introduction to Latin. This one is popular too. This is great for the mom who just wants a short lesson, open and go, and you can work through it together, and it’s so explicit that even a child middle school age could probably work through it on their own.

It’s a grammatical focus, you’re not reading passages and that’s the weakness of it but you could use this in conjunction with some passages, but it would be hard to find a book at the right level.

There are lots of little readers– Let me grab those real quick. There are lots of little books like this. Something like this may be in conjunction with some little readers that– They’re so cute, it just tells a little story: “Ursa in silva ambulat.”

Amy: I love that!

Angela: It’s so fun. The bear is walking in the woods. There’s a glossary in the back so there is this like, “Ooh, what’s happening? I see a picture that’s going to help me interpret,” and I can go look up unfamiliar words if I can’t figure it out. I do like this one because I feel a lot of people have been helped by this, and it’s been super supportive for people that just want to get started with Latin, oh hence the name, Getting Started with Latin. But  it’s so supportive for mothers who are feeling a little nervous about something they don’t know anything about and I think that’s a great way to start. These are a good supplement to bring in the reading aspect.

I teach and I have taught Cambridge and Ecce Romani. Here’s Ecce Romani ,this is the one I’ve taught for many years. Each chapter begins with a passage and the whole book takes you through a year or a few years in the life of a family. Each chapter you get the next installment in what’s going on in their lives, so you get this reality that you enter immediately and you get invested in these characters and what they’re doing. It’s a lot of fun.

Let me show you Cambridge as well. This is the one that I teach in my Latin classes, my Living Latin lessons online. This is a little bit more– Puts a little bit– the children are doing more reading. There’s a lot more reading in this one and I’m having fun, this is my first year teaching it and I love this text. I’m looking forward to teaching this and the next level in it next year. I guess I would add—

Then the only other thing I would really add is things like this, Latine Cantemus. This is the book of songs. If you want a Christmas carol in Latin, you can look it up in here and all sorts of familiar songs like American Folk Songs, Anthems, Irish Folk Songs, they’ve got a whole bunch of different things. There are, goodness gracious, there’s over 130 pages of songs in here. This is a great little resource if you want to have a Latin song that you learned as a family, or if you want to have some copy work or a recitation piece, this is a great resource for that.

Then here’s Mother Goose in Latin.

Amy: Someone actually-

Angela: There is an audio cd.

Amy: -gave it to me. Someone gave that to me as a hand-me-down and I have been saving it for this spring. I think I’m going to use that in my morning time with the kids.

Angela: Oh, well then be sure to go to the website– Yes, go to the website because Terence Tunberg he’s this amazing person. He’s a celebrity in the Latin world but he’s famous at the University of Kentucky for bringing back the direct method approach to Latin. They learn Latin at the University of Kentucky through total immersion where that’s all they speak. He’s amazing. I did a seminar with him last summer and I was just starry-eyed the whole time because it was like we’re all talking Latin and I’m talking very little but I’m like, “Uh, this is amazing.”

Yes, go to the website because someone reads each of these as a track, so you can listen to it, and it will help you and your children get the correct meter and pronunciation and that’s free. The website address is inside the book. Anyway, those are a bunch of my favorites, I have more but that’s a good overview of some things that I or some resources that I like, that I think lend themselves to a living approach to Latin.

Amy: That is great, thank you so much for sharing.

Angela: I love talking about it.

Amy: That’s going to be so helpful. I already am like, “Okay, when we’re done, I’m going to go check on some of those Latin readers and bring those into the living room.” I can tell you some of my kids would really get into this, so I think that would be fun.

Angela Reed’s Online Latin Classes

Well, can you tell me a little bit about the classes you teach, what age do you teach? Yes, tell me everything.

Angela: Yes, I have geared my classes to the middle school age. I could teach older but I just think that’s such a delightful age and it’s so much fun. We do a lot of games and play-acting, and oral exercises in class. I do zoom we have set up here. I have all the screens, and I try to have a gallery view so we can all see each other, interact with each other but we’re doing some miming and pantomiming and trying to find ways to interact with the language throughout our class period. I find that middle school students are very receptive to that. They don’t have as much of the like, “I am too cool for this” which they get eventually.

It takes a while to warm up high scholars to that point, but the middle scholars they’re just all in. I can have so much fun with them, and I love it so much. They’re just so precious.

Amy: This sounds like such a delightful class.

Angela: They’re just great. [laughs]

Amy: Can I pretend to be in middle school?

Angela: Of course. [laughs]

What Angela Reed is reading lately

Amy: Oh, Angela here as we close, I’m going to ask you the two questions I’m asking everyone this season. The first one is just what are you reading lately?

Angela: Oh, I didn’t bring it but I can tell you. I just started– I picked up Jordan Petersons, The 12 Rules for Living: An Antidote to Chaos. I found that at my parents’ house and I was packing up all their books because they’re moving to Florida to be closer to family. I was like, “I need this book. I have a lot of chaos in my emotional life because of all this pandemic and everything else.” My sister had turned me on to Jordan Peterson and I had seen a documentary about him online. I just think he’s a really fascinating person and he’s well-reasoned. He’s somebody that even though he’s not a believer, he is seeking truth.

There’s purity about that I’m so encouraged by. To read his 12 Rules for Life and to get inside the philosophy of his life and his ideas about what it means to live well as a human being it’s so interesting because I see so many resonances with other ideas that I’ve encountered, whether in Charlotte Mason or Dallas Willard, or these other areas where I’ve read. That’s the one I’ve been enjoying lately.

Amy: That sounds really good. We could all use some clarification of the chaos.

Angela: Yes. [laughs] Jordan Peterson, please teach me, I’m receptive to some wisdom in the chaos here.

When the homeschool day seems to be going all wrong

Amy: Well, speaking of chaos every homeschool mom has the day where everything seems to be going wrong and they just want to throw in the towel. What would you say to that homeschool mom whose day is going all wrong?

Angela: Oh. Well, I usually go to my room and I just get away for a minute. I have a little cross on my wall, and I have a beautiful window that opens to the backyard and the trees, the big pine trees. Seriously I just sit on my bed and I look out the window and I look at that cross and I pray. The main thing I pray if the whole day has come unraveled is I– Please don’t think I’m crazy if I say this, but I feel I’m casting out any demons that are in my mind. I say that because people might take me literally and think like, “Are you crazy? You really have demons in your mind.”

What I mean by that is this idea that the enemy speaks lies to us and he whispers lies about who we are and what we– He makes us believe that we’re not doing enough or that we’re failing, and that all these things are going to happen.

In the midst of a homeschool day that’s unraveled, it feels like, “Oh my goodness. This ship is sinking and I’m the captain and I failed.” I go in the room and I pray and I speak against those lies. I try to call out in the name of Jesus I command fear, I command anxiety, to leave. I invoke the name of Jesus because that’s what prayer is, is we call out the name of Jesus, and he listens.

He gives us the means to speak truth to the enemy. I make that a discipline. I make that an exercise to speak truth, and to banish the lies that threaten to overtake me in that moment. My counselor says, “This is flexing your spiritual muscles.” Flex those spiritual muscles, call out those lies, cast them away, pray for Jesus to come and take the lead, and to send his spirits of peace, his angels of mercy. There’s a spiritual battle that we’re all going through, and we can’t see these things. We can’t see the lies, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. If we call out to Him for rescue and refute the lies, and invite him in, I think that that has done more for me this year and last year, it’s done more for me than anything else in the past.

That would be my advice, cast out your demons. Also, sometimes turning on something or sending the kids outside or going on a nature walk. There are these other things too, that aren’t super ultra-spiritual, but nature is restorative and distraction is helpful because sometimes we get so clouded in our thoughts, and we need to take captive our thoughts and just distract ourselves. Go somewhere else, and receive other inputs that are going to be healing to our mind and take us out of the urgency of the situation that we’re in.

Amy: I love that.

Angela: That’s what I can offer.

Amy: Just remembering that if Jesus Christ Himself is the truth. He’s the way, the truth, and the life, so those lies don’t stand a chance against the one who is truth himself incarnate. Our sermon on Sunday was we were talking about love and what is love. What does the Bible actually mean about love and thinking about God himself? He is love and I love that verse that says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” It’s not because like, “Oh, we can just drum up the perfect love in ourselves.” No, no, it’s the perfect love of God for us, most profoundly shown in Jesus Christ is what casts out fear, and just to be able to rest on that on those awful days is that is a good thing. Angela, this has been so much fun. I have just really enjoyed this conversation. You’ve kept me smiling the whole time.

Angela: This has been wonderful for me too. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to meet you and to talk about the things I am super passionate about. I hope you get your extrovert fix today. I definitely got my fix. I’m going to go read a book or something now. [laughs]

Amy: [laughs] Yes, I think I’m going to go chill out a little. I will have links to you and to the many things we’ve talked about in the show notes for this episode on over at humilityanddoxology.com. I will talk to you later.

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