Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - Shakespeare Edition

Every education, yes, even homeschooling, has gaps. Gaps are those things you didn't learn, didn't have time to study, didn't want to study when you had the chance, etc. One of the reasons that I am biased in favor of homeschooling:
  1. The gaps are minimized. More time studying, less time standing in hallways or waiting for the other kids to figure out the subject.
  2. One of the goals of homeschooling is to raise children who love (and know how) to learn. Someone who picks up a book for pleasure is someone who can study whatever she wants.
All that to say, despite the fantastic job my parents did homeschooling me (ahem), I knew there were a few gaps.

One of those gaps I wanted to fill (as opposed to a gap I'm content to leave alone) was Shakespeare. Oh, sure, I knew who he was. I even "read" a few of the plays. I'm just not sure I got the point or got anything out of it.

Philip and I agreed that we would homeschool our children before we had any. (We're planners like that.) I knew there were certain things from my homeschool days that I wanted to use (like Saxon math) and certain things I didn't. (like anything with Paces, Lifepacs, etc.) In my study two books were very influential for me: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola. (I also read other books about the classical method and Charlotte Mason but these are the two that I bought to have on hand because I loved them so much and they just made sense to me.)

Despite my affection for the aforementioned books, I'm more of an eclectic type homeschooler, though I consult The Well Trained Mind to make my curriculum choices each year. (I say "consult" because I do not follow it to the letter). You could call my method "relaxed classical". (I didn't coin that expression. I first saw it here. For me it's something of a classical / Charlotte Mason combo but there are probably a few other streams running in there too.)

One of the things that really caught my eye was the idea that you didn't have to wait until highschool to learn about William Shakespeare. And you didn't have to start with the little paperbacks of the plays themselves.

Who knew?!

So we started when Polly was old enough to read along. This year Tigger joined in. Here's what it looks like for us:
1. We read the Bruce Coville picture book, if there is one.(There are at least seven of these gorgeous picture books. And if anyone is wondering what to get the girls for Christmas, we do not yet own any of these and we would love to. So, file that away for what it's worth.)

2. We read the appropriate chapter in Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. (We own this book and we love it. There are many editions available and some of them on Amazon will only cost you a few cents.)

3. We read the appropriate selection from Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children. We also own this book. The girls prefer this one although I prefer Lamb's. (Both are excellent.)

4. We might read the story from Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (there are two different collections of these). We check this one out of the library.

5. If one is available, we read the story from the Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series by Lois Burdett.

Sometimes I print off coloring sheets (there are some available here). Sometimes the girls listen to the Librivox version or an audio cd of the play. (We found the Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare on c.d. at our library as well as other Shakespeare resources.)

We do these things only about once a week. Which means we spend at least a month on one story. We started with A Midsummer Night's Dream this year. Tigger, who was reluctant at first, is now a fan. She can tell you all about the story. She had practice reading aloud (we three took turns) and she was inspired by the Shakespeare Can Be Fun book to illustrate some of the scenes.

Here's what we haven't done: we haven't watched a live play or one of the movie version of any play yet. We haven't tackled the plays themselves. I'll let you know how that goes when it happens. But I can tell you, once we get to that point I suspect these characters and plays will be old friends.

(I must give credit to Cindy at Ordo Amoris and also the blog Mental Multivitamin for sharing their families' Shakespeare journeys. I'd like to have minds like these women when I grow up.)

Do you "do" Shakespeare? What's your favorite?

(The images in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are, as always, my own.)

1 comment:

April said...

I am bookmarking this post and pinning all the Shakespeare books. You perfectly described the education style I am striving for and now I know how to describe it! "Relaxed classical." Thank you for this post, it's why I'm a reader of your blog!

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