A Bit of Bard for the Kidlits
Shakespeare. He probably isn’t on most parental to-do lists when it comes to childhood enrichment items. Then again–why not? We trot our kiddos to soccer practice, piano lessons, and the library to enrich their lives, why not foster the love of the Bard at an early age?
Acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig believes infusing the Bard into our children’s lives is an essential, endearing adventure to undertake. His How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is both inspirational and inventive in its approach. Although I no longer have kidlits at home since my progeny are now building their own nests, I can still adapt Ludwig’s methods by amending them to classroom instruction, especially since the ninth grade Common Core curriculum has a Romeo and Juliet section.
Teaching Shakespeare to our children is a notable endeavour. Ludwig states a few of his goals as to why he taught Shakespeare to his children on page 11:
- giving them tools to read Shakespeare’s works with intelligence for the rest of their lives
- enriching their lives
- exposing them to literature to inspire them toward achieving great lives as they grow
- providing meaningful shared experiences
Cool. Those are pretty much my intentions when I teach Shakespeare to my classroom kiddos.
Ludwig hits all the essential values of the “why” of Shakespeare:
1. The richness of imagery
2. The lilt of rhythm
3. The nuances and playfulness of language
4. The importance of memorizing and tucking away forever a few exceptional passages to pull out and nibble on throughout life
5. The joy of exploring character
Shakespeare’s plays showcase poetry at its best. Why wait until the kinder are all grownup before relishing the richness of English language? I am always amazed when I get a ninth grader who states, “Shakespeare? Who’s Shakespeare?” Admittedly that confession is rare. Unfortunately, the only Shakespeare most students know is Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand, by the time they leave high school they will become acquainted with at least three plays and a a handful of sonnets. Sadly, I didn’t have any Shakesperience until I began teaching it. That’s nearly thirty years of being Bardless. Shocking, I know. Now I’m a professed Bardinator and hope to put my acquired knowledge to page, one of these days. We’ll see. I have too many books in want of writing as it is.
For now, I am thrilled to introduce Shakespeare to my freshmen and strive to induce appreciation for his words and wit.
Anyone out there have the Bard on their parent list? Is it squeezed in with ballet and soccer?
- Words, Words, Words: Five Everyday Expressions Invented by William Shakespeare (ufprism.wordpress.com)
- 10 Movies You Didn’t Know Are Based on Shakespeare (screenrant.com)