The Beauty of Shakespeare

Shakespeare is a subject long thought to be dry and complicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Adding Shakespeare into your study rotation will only enhance your homeschool.  Shakespeare is one subject that my children are always anxious to do.  I can honestly see the fruits of having this subject in our studies per the Charlotte Mason principles.

The beauty of Shakespeare is that it adds fun as well as enrichment to your homeschool

“Shakespeare was as great a philosopher as he was a poet. That’s what he set out to teach us in every line. His characters ‘Leontes,’ ‘Othello,’ ‘Lear,’ ‘Prospero,’ ‘Brutus,’ demonstrate the same thing: that a man’s reason will try to bring infallible proofs to any notion that a person decides to take up. There’s no shortcut and no way around it, the art of life takes a long time to learn.”
Charlotte Mason
Shakespeare is responsible for over 2000 words in the modern English language. A fantastic way to improve vocabulary is to study Shakespeare.  Lots of Shakespeare’s plays can be inappropriate for small children. Heck, lots of them border on pornography if you think about it. Be discerning when choosing which play to study with younger children. The benefits of increased vocabulary as well as history coming alive for children far outweigh the risks in my opinion.   



Charles and Mary Lamb have a great series on Shakespeare plays broken down into easy to understand terms for elementary children.  Think of it as narration broken down in children’s terms .  Any of the stories in these books are appropriate for children. It’s a phenomenal way to acclimate children to Shakespeare .  I would advise discernment on taking elementary age children to see any of the plays done professionally.  Since the series tones down the themes in the plays they may be exposed to more adult themes.  We read the stories slowly as well as act them out together.  Don’t overthink it at this age.  Any exposure is better than no exposure. Have fun with it. 



Once middle school begins, we start reading Shakespeare as he wrote it.  I find No Fear Shakespeare to be a phenomenal way to make it understandable  One side has Shakespearan language while the opposing page has it translated into modern English.  If you’ve been reading Shakespeare since elementary then this should be an additional exposure.  At this point  you can start discussing some of the more mature themes as appropriate.  History starts to come alive as they see characters from their history studies in Shakespeare’s plays.  This is also the age that I start bringing them to plays at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.  Nothing makes Shakespeare come alive as seeing it acted out on stage. 

High school is just an extension of middle school. We continue reading a play a semester out loud .  If we can’t see it live on stage then I get the BBC series to watch.  My kids are Shakespeare junkies at this point.  When they hear a word that came up in one of our plays , they immediately recognize it .  One phenomenal benefit of reading Shakespeare has been that reading the classics in Old English became astonishingly easier for my children.  There was less of a struggle to understand the cadence of the older versions. 

Shakespeare doesn’t have to be a chore to add to your homeschool,  It’s not a daily occurrence but one that we add in for a few hours every week.  If we need to skip a week because of other activities then so be it.  Shakespeare is a cultural experience to benefit our homeschool not another subject to be checked off.

The Next Step To Homeschool