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Shakespeare and Children With Learning Differences

When I was in the sixth grade, I auditioned for our school’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

I was confident that I would land one of the starring roles.

I didn’t. In fact, I wasn’t cast in any role. (Turns out my acting ability wasn’t quite what I thought it was…)

The drama teacher did however, ask if I would like to be the stage manager for the production.

For weeks, I practiced set and lighting changes, all while the actors practiced their lines around me.

By opening night, I was shocked to realize I knew every word by heart.

I had absorbed the language through repetition.

More importantly, I found I understood exactly what was being said. As stage manager, it was my job to know the “big picture” of the entire play.

Shakespeare was suddenly a genuine part of my learning – all without ever having read a word.

Teaching Shakespeare to children with learning differences has significant benefits.

My children learn very differently than I did back in sixth grade.

My eleven year old can barely read on his own.

My fourteen year old struggles with basic social interactions and reciprocity.

They both require a hands-on, immersive approach to any new learning.

Introducing them to Shakespeare might seem like a bit too much, but I am doing just that – and with wonderful results.

Teaching Shakespeare to children with learning differences has significant benefits.

Please know, although I was compensated for this post, I only write about items that I have truly found to be helpful for my family. It is my hope that in sharing, you will find resources that work for yours as well. Thank you for your support!

Shakespeare And Children With Learning Differences

I was introduced to  How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare through other bloggers and their universal praise. Without fail, everyone who had used the book, reported it as user-friendly and requiring no previous experience on the part of the teacher.

Which is good because, as much as I loved it in sixth grade, Shakespeare intimidates me as an adult.

The book is a wonderful, step by step initiation into Shakespeare, and details how to introduce it to our kids in a way that is fun.

More importantly for my family’s circumstances, I am finding that How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare‘s approach is easily adaptable and appropriate for children with learning differences.

Teaching Shakespeare to children with learning differences has significant benefits.

How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare

Cultural/Social Relevance

The book does a wonderful job of encouraging parents and children alike, that Shakespeare is relevant and appropriate for today’s learner. Most notably, I find the author, Ken Ludwig‘s emphasis on imagery, metaphors and historic reference to be particular helpful for a child with learning differences. Too often, children with social and language gaps are taught metaphors and sarcasm in very sterile environments (think worksheets in an office). There is something wonderful about allowing Shakespeare to illustrate these language concepts, and then using it to fuel my boy’s learning. Plus, it is entirely more fun.

Audio Learning

This is perhaps the greatest benefit of How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare‘s method, especially with my boys’ learning differences. The book is supported by a vibrant collection of audio clips on its website. My children can  listen to Shakespearean passages from actors like Sir Derek Jacobi, Richard Clifford, and Frances Barber and follow along in the book.

This is obviously a significant benefit for my profoundly dyslexic son. But it also serves as a wonderful support for my son on the autism spectrum. He can hear the voice inflection and emotion, in a very dramatic and over the top fashion, making it easier for him to grasp social constructs in the literature.

(Incidentally, when doing further research, my son was encouraged to learn that  Shakespeare rarely even used the same spelling of his name twice. “I have trouble writing my name too sometimes!” he said.)

Teaching Shakespeare to children with learning differences has significant benefits.

After reading, listening and beginning to memorize a few, funny passages, I am surprised at how much my sons are able to grasp and enjoy Shakespeare. The author, Ken Ludwig developed his methods while teaching his own children, and it shows in his practical and interesting approach.

Innovative and fun are two words that easily describe Shakespeare’s writings, but rarely apply to how we teach his works today. This book and its accompanying website, create learning opportunities that are interesting, accessible and appropriate for our children’s needs.

It’s what truly makes How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare different and in my mind, an excellent resource for both teaching and learning Shakespeare.

Teaching Shakespeare to children with learning differences has significant benefits.

Want a copy of your own?

I am excited to share that How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare‘s author, Ken Ludwig, is giving away 10 copies of the book.

Enter to win here and good luck!

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  1. What an awesome book. I love Shakespeare, but my kids are not so thrilled. We are seeing a Shakespeare play in a few weeks. I will have to check this book out before then.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. This sounds pretty neat. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

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