You Teach Latin to Third Graders?

I walk into my second third grade class of the day. I still think of these little people as second graders and I’m not sure when that will change. Pass out the textbook, read a paragraph slowly, painstakingly – they are afraid of making mistakes and I can’t wait to show them that I don’t care about mistakes. They can’t pronounce quoque or Latin Asia for the life of them, and they look up at me with big eyes.

We make lists on the board. What part of speech are all these words? Nouns! What part of speech are all these words? Verbs! See? You’ve already learned two parts of speech in Latin, and it’s only our second class!

Finally I tell them to stand up, push their chairs in. One of the smallest ones grins and says,

“We’re going to learn a song!”

And I look at her quizzically.

“How did you know that?!”

“Sally told me!”

And that is the moment I realize: They talk about Latin class.

Oh my gosh. It was a dream come true. Little third graders passing in the halls. They could talk about recess, about Disney princesses, about sleepovers and playdates. But they talk about Latin.

For the rest of the class, I taught them “Hallelu-hallelu-hallelu-hallelujah, Gloria Deo!” and we sang it, all twenty-six of us. We sang it really quietly, crouched down, and then we grew and grew our bodies as we got louder and louder, ending with arms raised, singing “Gloria Deo!”

Glory to God.

At the end, they sat down to the new Latin command they’d learned (“Sedete!”), and as I wheeled my cart full of books out of the room, I heard them softly sing to themselves.

Hallelujah! Gloria Deo!

4 thoughts on “You Teach Latin to Third Graders?

  1. Suzanne

    You’re the cool teacher! 😀 I would have loved to learn Latin in 3rd grade from you! This made my heart smile. Who knows how this class might entirely change some of their lives?
    And we need to have tea together soon. Email me?

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      I wish you’d had Latin in 3rd grade, too! 🙂 It’s weird to think back on the people/teachers who really influenced us when we were little…now it’s us.

      Yes! Tea! I will email you!

      Reply
  2. Jane

    Those are lucky kids! I did 3 years of latin in university for my classics and archaeology degree and loved it. I’ve actually considered going back to learn more latin, because I feel like, even after 3 years, I only got the basics. I just love that you’re teaching latin to 3rd grade students! What an amazing school! X Jane http://janeheinrichs.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. catherine_hawkins Post author

      I would love to keep taking Latin – I hope you can do it! Yes, there is something so beautiful about the excitement in students that age. I’m so grateful to be teaching at a school that recognizes this and starts them early! Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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