How Does Providence Help New Students Catch Up In Latin?

Written by Alicia Jekel on January 15th, 2015


We understand that students begin their study of Latin at Providence in third grade. If my son or daughter enters Providence after third grade, how does he or she catch up in Latin?



Rest assured that it is possible. A determined student with good study habits and supportive parents can go far! Many new students enter Providence as late as sixth or seventh grade with no Latin background and still caught up with their class in Latin. Obviously, however, it gets more challenging for new students with each successive year of Latin, and the experience of new students varies widely by individual. In general, students who enter Providence for sixth grade or earlier, have a very good chance of catching up with their current class or even becoming an outstanding Latin scholar. For students who enter Providence during their Secondary years, it may not be possible to catch up with their class in Latin, but we are willing to work with families to provide the best solution for their needs.

The first tool we offer to support new students is the Summer Latin Tutorial. Students new to Providence are asked to attend a two-week summer class, usually the second and third weeks of August. Attending this summer tutorial is very important because it gives a critical foundational exposure to Latin grammar and vocabulary. In the summer tutorial, we are able to cover enough material to launch students easily into fourth and fifth grade Latin and to give them a good foundation for entering sixth grade Latin. The pacing and curriculum of the summer tutorial is tailored to meet the needs of each year’s newcomers, so it may cover more or less material depending on the age and needs of the new students.

Additionally, teachers often work with new families over the summer to provide them with vocabulary lists, study tips, books, CD’s, and other resources. Any time your student can spend learning grammar chants or vocabulary over the summer is going to shave off homework time during the school year and help them acclimate to their Latin classes more readily. If you already know your student will attend Providence next year and are concerned about Latin, feel free to contact our Latin teachers now; you may be able to start working toward catching up in Latin even before the summer tutorial begins, which will enable your child to close that gap more quickly.

Each September, Latin teachers incorporate a significant review of the previous year’s vocabulary and grammar to help all of the students make the adjustment after summer break, and this review period gives new students another chance to catch up with their classmates. The third and fourth grade curricula are designed with substantial review to help students build a solid foundation, and this means that students entering into fourth or fifth grade will have an excellent chance of learning almost all of the material their classmates have covered.

Once the new school year is under way, Latin teachers continue to monitor the progress of new students carefully and will provide students with some extra practice work if needed.  We may also recommend tutoring if we think that would help your child to see the greatest success.

Establishing good study habits, effective homework routines, and daily review of Latin vocabulary and chants will also help ensure your child’s success. New students should expect to spend perhaps an additional fifteen minutes per day on studying and reviewing Latin beyond what their classmates are asked to do (grammar students generally have about ten minutes of Latin homework per day, while Secondary students have about fifteen). Investing just a little extra study time during your first year will pay long-term dividends as your child will be able to make the transition more easily.

But what about students who enter Providence in seventh grade or later? A lot depends on the student’s previous experience with language or with Latin. We often work with families on a case-by-case basis to find their best fit solution. Some of the options we have pursued in the past include coordinating individual tutoring, scheduling classes so that students can take a lower level of Latin than their classmates, offering a split class if there are enough new students in a particular grade level to warrant it, having a student audit the Latin class until he or she is able to adjust, or overseeing students who are taking online classes. Depending on the number of new students and their needs, we would also consider a before-school or after-school Latin class. Students who transfer into Providence in ninth or tenth grade may be allowed to substitute another foreign language which they have already begun studying to meet their foreign language requirement. In the future, we hope to offer a high school Latin I and II class for incoming ninth and tenth graders.