Shakespeare Studies in Your Homeschool

by Dawn Oaks on August 1, 2014 · 0 comments

Hewitt Homeschooling Review
 One of the joys of serving on The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew is being able to get introduced to new publishers of homeschool curriculum that I may have never run into otherwise.  In the past, I have seen resources from Hewitt Homeschooling advertised, especially the various Lightning Literature and Composition courses for the high school grades.  Why we have never tried them out before, I am not really sure.  But now that we have had the opportunity to, I can say we have been missing out on something that has really clicked with our oldest.  She has been working through the Lightning Literature & Composition’s Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets.  In conjunction with this, I received the Teacher’s Guide that corresponded with this course.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

A couple of years ago, our daughters took a Shakespeare class at our local homeschool group.  Shocking to me was that our oldest absolutely loved it and could not get enough of reading different plays by Shakespeare even after the class ended. Since that time we have been looking for a structured course that would help to continue so that she could receive a full elective credit in Shakespeare Studies. I was thrilled to find out that Hewitt Homeschooling offered such a course that was coming up for review through the TOS Review Crew.

The Course

The Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets course is designed for students in grades 9 through 12. It is encouraged that you may want to consider waiting to do this course until 11th or 12th grade so the student has a bit more writing and literary analysis skills under his belt.  The course in its entirety can be completed in a half year, which would suggest that it can count toward a half credit in language arts or as an elective.  There is a suggested schedule in Appendix D of the book that outlines the pace for completion in this time frame and an alternative schedule for students that wish to complete it over a longer period of a year.  This second schedule would be ideal for a student that struggles in language arts or a student that is doing another full language arts curriculum and adding this on as an elective.

When the student has completed all of the reading and writing assignments, the following Shakespearean works will have been studied (not in the order written below):

  • Twelfth Night
  • As You Like It
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Sonnets 27, 28, 93, 116, 129, 130, 136, and 138

When we received the package from Hewitt Homeschooling, there was a student guide and a teacher’s guide.  The student guide has a lengthy introduction that provides the student with a review on the writing styles they will be studying, an author sketch of Shakespeare, literary techniques that will be encountered, and an overview of the basics of writing a solid essay.

Within each unit, the student can expect to find:

  • a plot summary of the works being studied
  • reading comprehension questions
  • a literary lesson that teaches about theme and character development
  • suggested writing exercises

This study by Hewitt Homeschooling is much like their other high school courses in that the students study great literature as a platform for expanding their writing skills. A list of possible writing topics is provided at the end of each unit. It is recommended that the student complete two of the assignments of their choosing for units that study a complete comedy and one writing assignment for units that consider sonnets. This dual focus of studying the literary works coupled with developing solid composition skills is exemplified by the company’s tagline.

Acquiring College-Level Composition Skills by Responding to Great Literature

The Teacher’s Guide is a packet that comes already 3-hole punched for easy insertion into a folder or binder.  It contains helpful grading tips for the writing assignments, full course grading templates, answers to the reading comprehension questions, lists of the suggested writing exercises for each unit, discussion questions, memorization samples, and project ideas.

The pricing on this course is wonderful with the student book selling for only $29.95 and the Teacher’s Guide is simply an additional cost of $2.95.  That is a complete half year literature and composition study for less than $35.  The sonnets are included in the Student Guide, but you will still need to obtain your own copies of the plays.  Most of the plays can be found free as internet downloads, at your local library, and can be purchased in bound form at most booksellers.

I am thrilled to be able to share the product pages for this study where you can find links to pdf sample pages: Samples of Student Guide and Samples of Teacher’s Guide.

Our Thoughts

My first thought in having now used this study for a while is “Where have you been all our homeschooling lives.”  Some of the things that  we have found about this course that we really like are:

  • The comprehensive use of vocabulary, reading comprehension, discussion questions, and essay prompts
  • The grading matrixes for writing assignments
  • The wonderful templates for documenting your student’s progress and grades throughout the course
  • The variety of different writing assignments that really help to stretch the student
  • The affordability

As a mom of multiple homeschoolers, it would be wonderful if there were some suggested key points that we should be looking for in the writing exercises related to the exact content of the work being studied.  In an ideal world, I would read each thing that my children read and be able to thoroughly know it inside and out.  The reality is that is just not possible when you are outnumbered 4 to 1.  There are great templates provided as a checklist for topic sentences, grammar, and the other mechanics of writing.  I just wish there was more content specific helps to insure that my child really grasped what was presented.

When I asked out daughter her thoughts, she jotted down this response for me,

I give this course 5 stars and hope that the other Lightning Literature studies are similar.  Ms. Kamath, the author, is more of a guide than a teacher.  She points out the things that I need to know leaving me free to interpret the text in my own way.  Her introductions are personable and the writing assignments are creative.  She also recommends movies as a supplement, which is something that I wish I saw more of.  It motivates me to get through some of the dull moments.

As a wrap up, I would give this study a big thumbs up.  As a matter of fact, we are planning on purchasing additional high school literature units from them in the future.  Hewitt Homeschooling also has numerous products for children in elementary and middle school.  To learn more about them, follow the icon below to the rest of the TOS Review Crew reviews.

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