How to Include Shakespeare in Your Homeschool Plans

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Include Shakespeare in Your Homeschool Plans. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

How to Include Shakespeare in Your Homeschool Plans

How to Include Shakespeare in Your Homeschool Plans

7Sister Sabrina loves Shakespeare and she has made our homeschool high schoolers love the Bard, also! Therefore, this week, she is going to share some proven ideas for including Shakespeare in your teens’ English/Language Arts credits.

Shakespeare is important to include some Shakespeare in your teens’ high school experiences because:

  • He was a great storyteller
  • His characters and their relationships were intriguing:
  • Heroes were flawed
  • Bad guys were complex
  • The stories are timeless

However, the Elizabethan language can get in the way of enjoying the plays. Not only that, but sometimes the way Shakespeare’s plays are taught is BORING. You cannot sit is a musty corner of a library reading an Elizabethan-era play and get the most out of it.

Therefore, let’s look at a different way to include Shakespeare in your homeschool plans

Take a deep breath! You can do this!

Start with reminding your high schoolers that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be entertainment for the common person (and even folks from higher ranks).

You can compare it to television writers today- like a Netflix original! They are writing for an audience of average people. He needed for the plays to be captivating, heartbreaking and funny.

Next, make Shakespeare accessible to your teens.

Start with a fun lesson on Phrases Shakespeare Gave Us (download this freebie).

Give yourself a break: do not overdo it.

You do not need to make Shakespeare an entire-year process. Perhaps do only one-quarter of the school year to include Shakespeare. (You can repeat that next year.) Choose a mix of Shakespeare’s different play genres:

  • Histories
    • His histories are actually histories…perhaps a few liberties taken with some characters and events, but some good histories, nevertheless.
  • Comedies
    • The comedies are not actually comedies as we think of comedies. Aristotle gave guidelines for comedies: everything turns out as it should- the good are rewarded and the evil get their just rewards. Shakespeare’s comedies follow Aristotle’s rules: everything turns out as it should. Therefore, the plays do not need to be full of laughs, but rather, they need to turn out right.
  • Tragedies
    • Shakespeare’s tragedies are just the opposite of the comedies. They are stories where the protagonist dies and other good people loose things, too. The wicked are not punished as we feel they should be. We come away from the play thinking, “Man, that is JUST not right!”
    • This kind of play can be cathartic. There is something about (as Sabrina says), “raging at the universe and shaking our fists at the injustice of things!”

Use 7Sisters Shakespeare Guides to make it easy to include Shakespeare in your planning

In the guides, Sabrina gives teens:

7Sisters Literature Study Guide forA Midsummer Night's Dream
Click image for full description.
  • The “superfast” short-story style synopsis of the story. This is presented in a conversational style that teens can understand and relate to.
  • A look at the familiarness of the characters. These are people like the people they know or have seen in the media.
  • Explanation of a couple of topics to focus on during the play. (Sabrina does not want to kill the play by teaching EVERY SINGLE THING teens could learn about Shakespeare. Rather, she keeps the focus on two or three topics.)

7SistersHomeschool offers guides for these plays:

Next, she asks the students to watch a good production of the play before they read the play

Because teens already know the story, it is easier to follow the play, even with the Elizabethan language. They will not get everything from the play but they get a great start! You can find wonderful performances of Shakespeare’s play on YouTube.

Now, have the students read the play along with their study guides

The 7Sisters study guides do not bore teens with tons of comprehension questions. Rather, the questions guide them through the process of learning about the themes and topics for the particular play. Therefore, homeschool high schoolers learn some excellent literary analysis in a non-overwhelming way.

King Lear Literature Study Guide from 7SistersHomeschool

Click image for full description.

Lastly, teens learn some Elizabethan vocabulary

Each 7Sisters Shakespeare will give them some Elizabethan vocabulary to enrich their understanding.

Finally, students write a short essay on a topic suggested in the guide

The suggested topics for the essays suggest students write a one-paragraph or five-paragraph essay.

This process sets students up for success in learning!

Our homeschool high schoolers have found that they actually LIKE Shakespeare by following the process in the 7Sisters Shakespeare guides! We think your teens will like Shakespeare also.

Join Sabrina for a chat about including Shakespeare in your homeschool planning.

Also check out these Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes about Shakespeare:

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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