Wednesday, August 19

Memoria Press

I have two items from Memoria Press that are sadly past due date. I want to share them anyway because it is an amazing company and hopefully, someone researching homeschool curriculum for the upcoming year will discover that it is exactly what they've been looking for.

Memoria Press sent us two different programs: Latina Christiana II and Christian Studies III.

Latina Christiana II begins with 5 review lessons; excellent for those switching over from a different program (like us) or for someone returning to Latin after a summer vacation lacking in Latin. The format was different for us and some of the 'review' was new material for us, so this took longer than what would usually be one week per lesson. Thus, a late review. I couldn't comment on the lesson content until we hit the regular lessons, 5 lessons in. And then summer hit. But I'm making excuses now, so let's return to the review. Lessons begin with DVD instructions. These are not required for completing LC, but are hugely beneficial. They thoroughly teach the material, reviewing past material and make certain that your students know what they are doing before they approach their workbooks. After trying it both ways, I wouldn't even try a Latin program that didn't have instructional dvd's. They make all the difference.

The lessons moved along well; there was a good amount of review, but it's not necessary to assign all of the work in each lesson if the student knows the material. New vocabulary was taught, but the emphasis in LC2 is on grammar. Students are able to translate meatier portions than before. The workbook assignments were challenging enough to keep them engaged, but not overwhelming.

In the end, we have decided not to go with Latina Christiana. It had much more grammar review than we needed and the boys were just so accustomed to the format we used in Latin for Children and want to go back to it. Rather than a 20 min. dvd each week, we watched the same 3 min. dvd every day in LFC which seemed to cement the vocabulary and chants very quickly. Also, the Latina Christiana DVD was narrated by Miss Leah. Miss Leah is adorable and a great teacher, but she has a beautiful strong southern accent that was beginning to influence our pronunciation a bit. Going from classical pronunciation to ecclesiastical pronunciation is good, but going into an ecclesiastical southern drawl, not so much. I knew it wasn't going to work for us when I heard Miss Leah say "Navigo", adding the fourth syllable: Na-vi-go-uh. I feel awful for bringing up something so petty, she truly is a wonderful lady, but it DID influence my decision about whether or not the program was for us, so I thought it needed mentioning.

Christian Studies III is a rich bible study program. It uses the Children's Golden Bible for bible readings, which I absolutely fell in love with. It is not required for the program, but it is inexpensive and quite beautiful. The title had me concerned that it would be childish, invoking memories of many Golden Books as a child. But it is intended for an audience of 3rd to 7th graders and provided a beautiful retelling of the bible stories. It wasn't of a storybook nature; it kept right in line with the Bible, but at an easier to comprehend level. I believe 3rd to 7th graders can handle reading scripture just fine, but it is a LOT of reading to gather the entire Bible account before tackling the bible study. It made a wonderful read-aloud that all of my family enjoyed together, from the 3 year old to the 12 year old! Even if you don't choose to use the Christian Studies books, I think any family would enjoy The Children's Golden Bible for family bible time.

As for the Christian Studies book, I was definitely impressed. I have hunted pretty hard through the years to find a good bible study program for us. Not a devotional, mind you, a bible STUDY. I want them to learn about what they read in God's Word, not learn about what they FEEL about God's Word. That will come without trying and doesn't make them any more enlightened. Christian Studies covers one lesson per week, focusing daily on the Bible story and memory verse. Some of the memory verses were quite a bit challenging to my sons, so I replaced some with other verses. The Magnificat definitely overwhelmed my boys. I had them write it out as copywork, and this filled an entire page. We moved on to a new verse. Not all of the verses given for memory work are this tough though. The Vocabulary sections were easy to cover and really helped my boys understand the stories better. Comprehension questions kept them engaged in the bible story, confirmed they were paying attention, and prompted nice discussions. The mapwork was an excellent addition that we really enjoyed. Extra activities and projects are also listed each week. This bible study truly helped the students LEARN both the bible story and ABOUT the story in a meaningful way that stuck with them.

As great as the products are, I have an even deeper appreciation for the company itself. Memoria Press is dedicated to helping "promote and transmit the classical heritage of the Christian West through an emphasis on the liberal arts and the great works of the Western tradition" This family business has many excellent materials in many different subjects, all sharing a classical Christian education with homeschooling families. The employees I corresponded with were very helpful and patient. I was very impressed.

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