Never too young to learn bard habits

When high school students learn algebra they rely on years of prior maths exposure to help them through it. However, for most students their first taste of Shakespeare comes as a shock. So why not introduce it to them before they reach the teen years when their "walls are up against the world"?

This was a question Bell Shakespeare asked when strategising about how to deal with the uphill struggle to introduce Shakespeare texts to secondary students.

Primary school program

In response the company launched its first official primary school program this year. Kicking off in September, the company will tour NSW bringing two choreographed shows aimed at primary schools – Midsummer Madness for Years 4 to 6 and Double Trouble (an exploration of the Shakespearean canon) for Years 1 to 3. A digital workshop will be delivered via video-conference from the Sydney Opera House along with teacher professional learning sessions in June.

Head of Education Joanna Erskine said the program aimed to help young students with all aspects of their literacy and to rally generations of students to come up through "primary school into high school with a built-in appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare".

"What we find is that many students when they meet Shakespeare in high school have already made their mind up. This gives young students the opportunity to embrace such challenging beautiful language when we normally hold back from introducing them to it till much later."

Ms Erskine said generations of students would grow up without a "Shakespearean fear".

 "It's a welcome change for them. It's opening them up to epic stories and characters and actually speaking the words aloud for themselves. It's giving them an experience of drama, public speaking and building confidence levels ... it really has a richness and depth of poetry and language that will help them across all areas of literacy."

To find out more go to the Bell Shakespeare Primary Program.

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