The Henle Latin series, originally published in the 1940s, is a four-volume set that covers grammar in First Year and the traditional Latin literature sequence of Caesar, Cicero, and Vergil in Second through Fourth Years. First Year covers grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and translation so as to prepare students to read the first Latin author, Caesar, in Second Year. There is Christian content throughout the series, and although some is specifically Catholic, the educational value of the Christian content as a whole is a very positive addition to this series for all Christians. The classical approach of this book fits perfectly with other elements of a classical education.
In the First Year book, grammar and vocabulary instruction takes precedence as students work through numerous practice exercises. Some are labeled “essential” for students who master the material quickly and need not do all the exercises. It is not realistic to try to cover First Year in only one year. Middle school students might complete it over three years, while high school students might complete it in two years.
The Second Year book reviews the material taught in First Year. In the Second, Third and Fourth Year books, the first half or more of each text consists of readings to translate. In Second Year, notes and definitions are at the bottom of pages (footnote style), while Third and Fourth Years feature copious notes, background, and explanations on facing pages. Exercises are found in the second half of each of these three books, with accompanying instruction on new concepts. Reference helps and Latin-English and English-Latin vocabulary lists are at the back of each book.
The grammar forms and syntax rules are all gathered together in a separate reference manual called the Henle's Latin Grammar ($9.50). This grammar manual is a required reference book for all four Henle texts.
Companion answer keys for each book are inexpensive. You will definitely want to purchase these. There is also a small, 105-page Teacher's Manual for Henle Latin Series First and Second Years by Sister Mary Jeanne, S.N.D. that explains the philosophy of the course and teaching strategies. It was written in 1955 for classroom situations, but there are many helpful ideas that will be useful in homeschooling situations.
Memoria Press (www.memoriapress.com) has been selling the Henle series for years while also using it in their school and online academy, so they are very familiar with it. They frequently begin students as young as fifth grade in the first Henle text, taking three years to complete it. Consequently, they have developed three very helpful Henle Latin Study Guide and Lesson Plan books that cover the First Year book in sections. Even if you plan to complete the first book in two years, you might find these expanded teaching guides more helpful than the resources available from Loyola Press since they have helpful hints, lesson plans, syllabi, and check-off boxes for daily drill and recitation. These guides also include answer keys so you need not purchase answer keys separately. While each guide is organized into approximately 30 weeks of lessons, they can be completed at any pace that suits your situation. Memoria Press has also created Quizzes and Final Exams booklets corresponding to the three guides for First Year.
There are other good Latin programs available, but none are this reasonably priced for such a solidly academic Latin course.