An Honest Memoria Press Review
When I first started homeschooling, 19 years ago, there were a lot of curriculum options. This was at the dawn of the internet age, when Napster was hot and chatrooms and AOL were the preferred methods of online communication. Back then, homeschooling had been around for many years and there were well developed and wonderful curriculum choices. My Father’s World, Math U See, Notgrass, Story of the World, Abeka, Sonlight and Memoria Press were there, as they still are today.
But with the internet becoming what it has, there are so many more options. There are online schools such as Ambleside Online, Easy Peasy, Monarch and Time 4 Learning. Also, blogs have taken the internet by storm, with so many bloggers out there offering their own curriculum that they have created, such as 1+1+1=1, and all that you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Really, there is no shortage of homeschooling curriculum and you can spend months just researching and looking into all that is offered.
My hope here is that I can help you find what you’re looking for.
If you end up thinking this curriculum isn’t for you, then I’ll have helped you decide on that. Anything I can do to ease your burden and stress is what I’m all about! I love curriculum and homeschooling, so it is a pleasure to write about what we’re doing, how we’re using it, and what my thoughts are about it.
This post contains affiliate links. I may make a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
You’re here for a Memoria Press review, so let’s get to it!
For the past couple of years, I have been using Memoria Press’s full core program. This includes most of the main subject areas, as well as Latin.
One disclaimer: I started using MP when my daughter was in 4th grade. She is now in 6th grade. We started with the 4th grade new user package. So this review will mainly be focused on those grade levels.
Some important facts to know about Memoria Press:
- It is a classical curriculum.
- It is Latin-based.
- It is rigorous.
- It needs you, as the teacher/parent, to be very engaged.
If these things sound like they’re not quite for you, then feel free to stop here. If you still aren’t sure what you’re looking for in a curriculum, I have written about choosing a curriculum, which includes 40 questions you can ask yourself. These are unique questions that most people don’t think of. Reading that can help shed some light on what you might need.
If you like the sound of the list above, then read on!
When you look on the website at the full curriculum, don’t go into sticker shock! Yes, they are expensive. But stick around and I’ll show you how to get this curriculum for cheaper. I never pay full price for anything, including my curriculum!
We’ll go through this subject by subject, but note that I do not include all of the subjects in my homeschool. I have explanations below.
Memoria Press prides itself on having a Latin program that is for the teacher who never learned or studied Latin. It is scripted and well laid out. Before I homeschooled, I took a few years of Spanish in highschool, but never much beyond that. I am certainly not fluent in any other language.
I have always had my children do Latin, using Memoria Press’ Latin curriculum, but never within the full core. Even with the lesson plans and well written books, I struggled with “getting to” Latin. It was always put on the back burner, always left out if I couldn’t get to it and other things were put ahead of Latin, such as math or reading. My oldest (now 26) made it to Henle Latin, the high school program, but it was hard. The two that followed her never took Latin into jr high.
I didn’t retain much of it myself and really wasn’t very excited about Latin in my early years of homeschooling.
Fast forward several years and I will admit now, that it’s become a favorite. My 11 year old is starting her 3rd year of Latin and I am loving it! She is learning to like it as much as I do, but she does appreciate it and likes that she knows it.
Some main points about what I love:
- It teaches critical thinking. Having to work through the language, deciding what to do, when to do it, tinkering with the endings, the meanings, the genders—all of it is critical thinking.
- It teaches grammar without being in your face. Grammar is inherent to learning Latin and we are discussing nominative cases, singular and plural nouns, verb and subject agreement, genders of words and she never hears the phrase “OK, we’re doing grammar now.” She would tell you she’s not learning grammar, but oh yes she is! Shhhh…it’s our little secret!
- Appreciation for English. She is learning so much about English, how many daily words come from Latin and how Latin has informed our language. Of course, English is a mixture of many languages, but “Latin-based” means that learning Latin will increase her English language skills, knowledge and ability.
- She doesn’t love the process of learning Latin. (I know–this sounds counter intuitive!) It can be had some days, tiring. When her brain is mush, it’s hard to find the knowledge tucked deep inside. I understand. We all do. But she likes that she knows Latin, that she can recognize words and phrases in real life and the appropriate pride of a job well done. So perseverance is a must to reach those goals and even though some days she’s trodding through mud, she’s moving forward and this she will use for the rest of her life.
Memoria Press does an excellent job of helping the teacher who doesn’t know Latin. There are CD’s, DVD’s, scripted lessons and numerous helps with their Facebook groups and forums. Any question you have can be answered. They even have online classes if you really don’t want to teach it. I suggest you at least try it. It is very rewarding!
Memoria Press’ Classical Studies program includes Greek Mythology and Roman and Greek history. While this may sound boring, they do a fantastic job of pulling this altogether.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our Classical Studies!
We started with Greek Mythology in 4th grade, which was when we entered into the Memoria Press world full time. In my opinion, this age was the perfect age to start a mythology program. MP uses DAulair’s book Greek Myths as the spine and includes a study guide to help you through the book. The student guide has vocabulary, a facts to know section and comprehension questions, as well as hands on activities, timelines and maps to add to your studies. It’s like a mini guide, taking you on a tour through Greek mythology. It has become a favorite of my daughter’s! She even went on to win a bronze medal in the National Mythology Examination contest!
Next we studied Famous Men of Rome and had an equal amount of enjoyment with that! While these people were real (as opposed to the Greek gods), their stories are nonetheless heroic! My daughter has a firm grasp on Roman history and has even formed an opinion about and relationship with the Romans, based solely on what she’s learned through this curriculum. I love how her critical thinking skills are constantly being tweaked and the growth I’ve seen in her has been amazing!
We really do like how MP does geography. We’ve tried many other methods and curriculum over the years, but with MP’s emphasis on recitation and memorization, I am finding that my daughter really is learning and remembering what she’s being taught.
The forum and Facebook groups that MP has available have been very helpful. There are other parents there sharing ideas and resources they’ve created for each other, as well as support. One mom told us how she does geography review with her child, so I copied that and it works so well! I will write about it here soon.
In 4th grade, we spent the year learning the states and capitals. Now in 5th grade, she’s reviewing the states as well as learning world geography. I do like how she’s spending two entire years on states and capitals, really getting those cemented into her memory.
It’s fun watching her being confident about the United States and now the world. When she hears something mentioned on the news, she knows where it is and has some context to be able to relate to it. This is the wonderful part about teaching your children, watching them apply the knowledge you’re spending so much time and energy on pouring into them!
I absolutely love the literature program that Memoria Press provides! While the workbooks might seem like “twaddle,” they most definitely are not! The questions are deep and thought provoking. The vocabulary words they choose are always at the perfect level of being challenging, but not hard. We also enjoy the enrichment activities they provide. These include things such as maps, researching the setting of the book, writing letters, poems, etc.
Even though I have already read a lot of the books that are chosen for literature, I have never regretted going through them again in this manner. We have both gleaned more form the books and they always fit nicely into the history, Latin and classical studies we are working on.
I highly recommend spending the time with the literature books. MP has you going through 4 books per school year, all chosen for you with guides for both you and the student. They are definitely a worthy investment of your time and money.
Memoria Press uses the spelling program called Spelling Workout. I tried it for two years with two different children on different levels. That means I went through four different books and I can say, I’m not a fan.
It’s a basic spelling program that you’ve done in school. Pretest on Monday, do workbook activities all week and have a test on Friday. Very basic. For some people it’s fine, it’s very simple, not cumbersome or hard to teach. The words they choose are good and I like the way it’s taught using the different spelling rules.
It just didn’t fit us, and that’s OK. I switched to Spelling U See and wasn’t a fan of that, either. So now I have my special needs daughter using Spelling City (online) and my 5th grader is using her own spelling words.
I am taking 10 words per week out of her usual writing and we’re working on those. For example, if she writes a letter to a friend and misspells the word “favorite,” that goes on the list. If she’s writing in her Latin book and misspells the word “ocular” that goes on her list. There is quite a bit of writing going on at this level, so it’s not hard to find words she misspells. She likes it because its relevant and I like it for the same reason. Why work on words they already know or that are too hard or easy?
You can find a lot of spelling activities on Pinterest. We’re going through the list on Monday, doing fun activities per Pinterest on Tuesday and Wednesday and taking a test on Thursday. If she doesn’t do well on Thursday, she can retake on Friday, otherwise she’s done. It’s a good motivator, too!
I tried the Fable level of their composition program when my daughter was in 4th grade, the suggested level. Neither one of us were fans of this program. I have used IEW and The Well Trained Mind programs for several years, with much success.
Memoria Press’ Fable composition feels a lot like IEW but more complicated. IEW does a great job of keeping it simple and helping both the teacher and child along, in small bite sized chunks. But MP’s program was overwhelming and it was difficult for both my child and myself to see what their intention was. It seemed like a lot of busy work with not a lot of results.
Other people love it, and many people use it with much success, but this was our experience. I now substitute the Well Trained Mind’s Writing With Ease and Writing With Skill.
The grammar program was also one that we stopped doing after a time. The curriculum suggests your child memorizes grammar rules in a recitation type format, however we found it difficult to recite the rules. They didn’t “flow” easily like the Latin and other recitations do and were cumbersome to work with. MP also suggests that you use the workbook called Core Skills Language Arts. If you’re doing this book and the grammar program, it’s overkill. In my opinion, you only need one of these, especially if you’re doing Latin. There is a lot of English grammar within the Latin program.
We are doing CSLA and Latin for our grammar and I don’t feel like she’s missing out. It’s more natural, instead of the forced way the grammar program felt. We’re learning grammar within a context, instead of memorizing and having one more workbook to do.
While Memoria Press doesn’t hide the fact that they are not history based, they do an excellent job of presenting American History.
American History is learned through literature books, biographies and books about the times that made history interesting. There are no dates to memorize, instead, you and your child get to just enjoy the stories of American heroes, ones who made our country.
Even though I have homeschooled 5 other children, I have learned more about American History through these books than I ever have. It’s quite unique learning American history and Roman history side by side. You can see similarities and have deeper discussions with your child, because they are seeing them, too.
The study of the Bible is divided into two years of the Old Testament and one year of the New Testament, in the upper elementary years. Memoria Press uses the Golden Children’s Bible as it’s main resource, but also gives scripture references, so you can use the actual Bible instead or as a supplement to the children’s version.
The Golden Children’s Bible is an excellent book, very high quality with great pictures. It’ not “dumbed down” like many children’s Bibles tend to be and they do not use easier versions of the terms and words. They set the standard high and ask your child to rise to it. I really appreciate that about this version and am happy that MP chose that as their spine for their Christian Studies program. You will use this book for three years, so it’s definitely worth the investment.
The teacher and student guides are set up exactly like the Classical Studies: vocabulary, facts to know, maps, and enrichment. While my daughter already knew most of the events that this program goes over, this curriculum does go more in depth and asks the child to learn facts and details that are usually glossed over in Sunday School.
We went through Christian Studies 1 and half way through 2 and then she started asking for something else. So we are skipping ahead to Christian Studies 3, which covers the New Testament. I’ll write about that once we’ve gone through it.
One thing to note, is that there is no doctrine or personal application of the Bible stories. It is presented as historical fact and the child interacts with the text and guides on a knowledge level, not a spiritual one. If you want to impart doctrine, life application and other similar aspects, you’ll want to find an additional curriculum/book or use these stories as guides to help you talk about deeper, spiritual matters.
I like the knowledge based approach, because it gives my daughter a solid foundation in strict Bible facts. This is something she can use for her entire life. We do, however, use
another approach to Bible study to get more devotional and life application.
There is an optional read aloud portion of this curriculum. Every grade has it and you can either read it to your child or have them read it on their own, depending on their abilities. We enjoy reading aloud as a family, so that is what we do.
While this is an optional addition to the curriculum, I highly recommend it! The books that are suggested are high quality and ones I would want my children reading anyway. It brings a depth to their learning that nothing else can.
The read aloud list for 5th grade includes Alice In Wonderland, A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Number the Stars and Black Beauty. We’ve also read Mary Poppins, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and a biography about Louisa May Alcott. Do not skip this part of the curriculum if you decide to go for it!
I did tell you that I would give you some tips on how I save money. These types of curricula can be expensive and it adds up quickly. Fortunately, there are great ways to get discounted–and even free–books!
Facebook Groups: There are a couple of very active groups that are solely for selling MP curriculum. Yes, most of it is used, but the prices are excellent and usually the books are in very good condition. Sometimes they might have a few lessons written in, but this is usually not a deal breaker for us, especially if I can save 50% on the book. In my area, there also a few homeschool curriculum selling groups that aren’t specific to MP, but there will be books on there that I can use, especially the read alouds. Check out similar groups in your area.
Christian Book: This website has almost all of the MP curriculum at 10-30% cheaper! All of these books are brand new and the shipping is fast. I order anything I can’t find used from this website.
Amazon: Of course, Amazon has most of the books you’ll need, and I have found some of the read alouds at a significant discount. If you have the lending program or free audio books, that is another avenue to check out.
Your library: All of the read alouds and literature books can be found at almost any library for free.
Gutenberg: This website has older books that are part of the public domain for free as ebooks. Currently, we are reading Black Beauty for free. You can download the books into iBooks if you have a Mac. They also support Kindle or other such apps.
Librivox: Similar to Gutenberg, but these are all audio books.
Gateway to the Classics: I used this website years ago when it was called the Baldwin Project. It used to be completely free. Now they are charging about $5/year. You can get some books in their entirety, but with the subscription, you can have access to more. it would be worth the money, especially if you have multiple children you need books for. This website it very similar to Gutenberg.
Memoria Press: A few times per year, Memoria Press will have free shipping. Also if you buy their teacher’s manual for any grade, you get a discount on the rest of the curriculum. Some books aren’t available anywhere except their website, and additional things such as the flashcards are hard to find elsewhere.
Garage sales, curriculum sales, thrift stores: If you know ahead of time and can spend a few weeks searching, you can really find some great deals out there. I found our Famous Men Of Rome text book for 50 CENTS at a curriculum sale. It sells for $17 on their website! What a great deal! These gems are out there if you’re willing to look for them.
Other curriculum sites: There is some crossover with other curricula and Memoria Press. Sonlight has a lot of the same read alouds and I have found families who do this popular curriculum are willing to share or sell me their books. You can also go to these websites and see if they have sales or different prices.
Overall, I am really loving the Memoria Press curriculum.
My daughter knows a lot of information and is retaining it. Most importantly, she’s enjoying herself. It is a rigorous curriculum and asks a lot of the student, but the pay off is tremendous! She likes what she knows, she enjoys being able to interact with the world around her in new ways. For example, when she sees Greek gods in current cultural contexts, she is able to appreciate it and fully understand the meaning.
She also enjoys conjecturing about the Romans and the people of that time period. She had a big discussion about what the Greeks must be like based on what she knows about the Romans. She also is able to predict certain personality traits or decisions about people in history based on what she has learned. For example, she has said, “I know this Roman emperor wouldn’t make this decision because the Romans usually acted this other way.” She could talk about that fluently and back up her reasons.
The plan for us is to stick with Memoria Press for the rest of her learning career. It will prepare her for life in many different ways and no matter what she decides to do, she will have a very solid foundation to launch the rest of her learning career from.
We love Memoria Press and all it has to offer our family!
If you liked this review, please let others know about it!
I super appreciate the compliment of sharing!
Thank you so much!