I started this post yesterday, here.
At the same time that I was starting to approach Latina Christiana I for the second time, with my second group of elementary school kids, I was just getting deep into First Form Latin with the older set. Having a couple of kids beginning to start a study of Latin grammar that was more rigorous, and finally being able to see the road ahead, helped me work out exactly what fundamentals I wanted to work on in the earlier years.
Namely, I wanted them to be able to recite all the declensions and conjugations by the time they got to them.
I wound up designing a "Latin workbook" of my own for the younger kids, one that contained space to write out the declensions and vocabulary groups in whole.
The writing is from my daughter when she was age seven, I think.
Eventually I dropped the workbook entirely. I used the flash cards, and I just trucked on through, reciting mensa, mensae, mensae... and amabam, amabas, amabat... and eventually res, rei, rei ... and audiebam, audiebas, audiebat...
I did very little writing with them because of the range of writing abilities. We tended to work orally from a dry-erase board. I played a lot of Carnifex, eventually getting up to [S-DO-V] sentences that contained adjectives and adverbs (Aquila alta ursam parvam non videbat.)
This coming year, everyone is finally able to work in a workbook, so I'm putting all four of the middle-size kids -- fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh-graders -- through FFL. (The youngest two are on the precocious side and have always been quick to translate orally; if they can't write fast enough to keep up with the writing, they can finish the work orally. I am confident they'll be able to keep up inside their heads.) But we only meet twice a week, so we'll be going reeeeeeeallly slowly -- a bit less than half time.
I plan to augment FFL this year with readings about ancient Rome. This past year the first of my students sat for the National Latin Exam (and did very well! I feel validated), which was the first time that I got a good idea of what is expected of high school Latin students. I hadn't been teaching much of the "social studies" content. I think I'm going to try to start bringing that material in earlier:
- History of the Roman empire
- Roman myths (well, we're going to do that with D'Aulaire's Greek Myths and memorize everybody's Roman names, mostly)
- Names of items in a Roman domus
- Maps and the Latin names of significant geographical and political features
- Daily life in Rome and in the outlying provinces
Once you've learned this they aren't likely to forget.
The other thing I'm going to do is continue reciting all the declensions and conjugations that they've already learned, so that they are still there when they finally arrive at them in the junior high and high school years.