Louisville Latin School Boosts Math and English Brainpower by Teaching Piano and Latin

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With all the hype about “No Child Left Behind” this election year, one Kentucky preschool is taking charge to make sure students excel in the building blocks of higher learning. This fall, eighty 3 and 4 year old students at Louisville Latin School (formerly The Plainview School, Inc.) began learning piano or Latin as a way to increase math, science, or literacy skills along with improving future SAT scores. To scientifically measure the impact of these programs, Louisville Latin School has partnered with the University of Louisville’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to track each student’s progress in comparison to students in other pre-schools not receiving these programs.

Under Louisville Latin School and Prospect Latin School's Piano Math Keys® program, students receive weekly piano lessons and participate in weekly group singing activities. According to school officials, “While children discover the joys of music, science tells us that clever brain neurons are connecting to form the types of thought patterns necessary to excel in math and science. These connections form, strengthen, and advance each child’s spatial intellect -- the ability to form mental images, visualize graphic representations, and recognize relationships of various objects to one another -- each the essential building blocks for subjects like calculus and physics.“

In Louisville Latin School and Prospect Latin School's Latin Locomotive© program, students participate in daily songs, games, and activities to learn Latin root words plus receive regular one-on-one Latin interaction. Parents also help through weekly home activities. According to the Head of School, “English is 70%-80% based on Latin. But while English is phonetically difficult for young children, a Latin root word always has the same pronunciation, spelling, and meaning. By webbing English together through common Latin root words, prefixes, or suffixes, children can learn to add up to ten or more words to their English vocabulary. Here, children experience the interconnectedness of ideas that relate words together rather than just word or letter memorization. Plus, they begin to build a mental framework with the building blocks of English.”

The idea to boost math skills through piano came after a 1997 study from the University of California Irvine which reported a 46% spatial increase in children learning piano. “But no one was using the research and turning it into real everyday programs for preschoolers”. “The idea for Latin in preschool occurred when we heard about Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham in Latin (Virent Ova! Viret Perna!!) selling out within a few weeks of its release and that students of Latin were outperforming their peers on the verbal portion of the SAT. For years, the American Psychological Association has talked about how learning a foreign language at a very young age benefits children's reading abilities and language acquisition. It just made sense that we start Latin. We hired the top Latin graduate from Centre College and now children are starting to use this once dead language during everyday communication.

Dr. Barbara Burns, Ph.D. from the University of Louisville’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and her team of doctoral students are heading up the research component for both projects. According to Dr. Burns, “Louisville Latin School (formerly The Plainview School, Inc.) and it's Administration are real visionaries. We certainly foresee these two programs as having a huge impact on the field of early childhood education and future college readiness.” “Frequently, educators have spoken about the benefits of music and Latin. By tracking these programs scientifically, the goal is to have hard scientific data to take to legislatures in order to have these programs included as part of the core preschool curriculum in all Kentucky preschools” said school officials.

For information about this release, contact Prospect Latin School, 8907 U.S. Highway 42, Prospect Kentucky 40059, 502-292-0123, http://www.prospectlatinschool.org

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