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3 Surprisingly easy ways to bring Homer to your homeschool

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

As a parent, you may be ready to bring the Classics to your home, but wondering if you can actually do it successfully. If it was not offered in your school, you may need some help to know where you should start, especially when our children are preparing to take GCSE or A Level examinations in the future, or even thinking about applying to university!

Here is the good news: it is not only easy but also lots of fun to bring a bit of Homer into your lives!

In this blog post, I give you some tools to get familiar with the world of Classics starting with Homer, whose work is central to the study of Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation at all levels.

A great place to start is by looking at the core works of classical literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey. In another post I will suggest resources to work on Homeric texts with your children, including the best translations available; but first, you will want to make sure you find out a bit more about these works and their timeless appeal.

I have chosen 3 paths for you to get to know the fascinating world of Homer and start thinking of ways to invite him to your homeschool. These are pretty laid back resources, so you can even learn with your feet up after the children are in bed!

Author unknown. Drawn after the Vergilius Vaticanus
The Trojan Horse

1. Read one of the excellent OUP Very Short introductions:

These series of short and beautifully organised books are designed to reach a non-specialist audience, and they are a true pleasure to read. My top pick is Homer by Barbara Graziosi. You can click here for my book review. I can also recommend the titles Classics, A very Short Introduction and the relevant sections in Ancient Greece, A very Short introduction.

You can learn about Homer in your free time. It does not have to be difficult!
Feet up with Homer

2. Read a historical novel: it is like taking a trip to Antiquity... minus the mosquitoes!

There are plenty of historical novels that are set in the context of the Homeric world. Personal favourites are Circe, by Madeline Miller, Ransom by David Malouf and the Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood - you will know her from the Handmaid's Tale.

If you would like to find out a bit more about great reads set in the ancient world, visit my blogpost on getting ready for Latin A Level, which has great tips beyond the language, particularly for the OCR Classics suit.

3. Listen to good quality podcasts: learn anywhere, anytime

Here you are truly spoilt for choice! There is plenty that can be found online, and homeschoolers will not be short of resources, but since this is just an introduction to the subject for parents, I will highlight the following 3 from my personal favourite, In Our Time:

Now that you have 3 strategies to get started with Homer in your homeschool, you can start thinking about the angle you are going to take to explore with your family. As a little taster of my upcoming blog, here are some ideas to get you thinking about it:

Summary of ideas to work on Homer in the home learning environment:

  1. Create art inspired by the stories in the Trojan War

  2. Do a film afternoon

  3. Cook some Greek food

  4. Find out the origins of English expressions related to Homer, such as Trojan virus, Achilles' heel or a Cyclopic wall

  5. Look at summaries of the stories and talk about creative writing and the beautiful way in which Homer starts in medias res and gets us into the story of the Iliad without using a linear perspective.

  6. Use Homer as a jumping platform to talk about Greek myths

  7. Get your children to investigate what we know about Homer. There will be plenty of surprises there!

Still unsure? Contact me for a free assessment, and we can have a chat about your options. Or if you want to discuss your ideas with like-minded people, join the facebook group for homeschoolers focussed on Classics here.

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