How was your September holidays? It flashed by in a twilight for us. We spent on revision of school materials cum assessments in the mornings and chillax for the rest of the day at libraries, bookshops and a day of cupcakes baking. Kids also played at the void-deck on their own like kampong days and also played soccer with the Bangladeshi workers who were resting at our area. The holidays was also a good time to maintain the new routine I began the last month.
New Routine : 1 to 1 Attention
I re-started this 1 to 1 evening time to read aloud chinese books to each individual kid and have a chit chat moment in the beginning of the year.
I ran out of steam after completing 1 book with each kid after a few months. It could be due to the lengthy chapter books that required such a long attention span for both adult and child that I surrendered after the first round of books. Then we slipped back into a chill mode of reading anything they liked because mummy was at wits’ end in chinese motivation.
Instead of losing such an opportunity to Chinese learning, I decided to change the direction of my 1 to 1 times with them. My boys are almost into their tween, one 10, the other 9 yo. I figured it was time to be more proactive in getting to know their interests together. Thus the start of Interest-based 1 to 1 attention with each child instead of just reading aloud to the individual.
We began by googling what they wished to learn.
With my girl E, we did a variety of crafty works from paper cuts, pop up card which required her to sew napkins together, rekindled her jewellery making for her soft toy dog to wear and satisfied her curiosity in a science experiment of the classic musical glass set up. Click on the instagram photos to check out my actual insta posts.
J wanted to DIY his very own puzzle for others to complete. He googled a scene of a farmhouse, drew and coloured from scratch. I helped him with only a part of his colouring when he wants. Now the tough part is for mummy to cut out each puzzle for this to be accomplished! He also did a few crafts from planes to ninja darts. The puzzle project took a good long month to get there.
A started with wanting to know Pi. We then played a quiz on it and he asked me to print out a page of Pi for him to memorise. He started off wanting to draw cards and he was keen to play games online. However, those were not engaging parent and child so I suggested Kahoots. This website allows you to create questions for quizzes online. He immediately jumped on that idea and created 2 quizzes on Maths for his brother. I feel this is a good way of helping the child recap, use his own knowledge and recreate for others to be quizzed.
Last but not going to be the last of this series, we found this simple and easy to use animation website for us to let our imagination run wild! This is from Toonator. To learn how to play click here. Click on my below insta photo to see the animation A did.
New Routine : Chinese Books Nightly Reads
With me ceasing my chinese reading aloud with them in April, it was time to tighten up our consistency in reading mandarin books. For the longest time, after searching through libraries and popular bookstores and the like, I could not find books with Han Yu Pin Yin that has good content.
As my boys’ Chinese deteriorates each year, I realised that the minimal assessments we work on will never be sufficient to improve their language proficiency. The solution is not to give more assessments as it will only repel them further from this language. It is such a pity that Chinese language becomes loathsome with the dry technicalities of doing assessments in the name of ‘learning’. I knew I needed the right materials not only to bridge the gap of their proficiency level, but a meaningful resource that can motivate and inspire them to read on their own.
I will be sharing a series of excellent chinese books in end October, early November. Reason being, I am still monitoring and observing how my children are using these materials for a more thorough learning. I will also have a giveaway for that awesome series once I complete my review with my kids’ progress! Don’t miss that review as it is the highlight of their chinese readings routine. They are learning to read aloud on their own with much motivation because of that series.
From that chinese series and the ones I will share in this post, it became manageable for the kids to read at their own pace. This time I set apart after dinner time, a stipulated 30mins to 45mins of purely Chinese reading nightly. I started this routine about a month ago. From an awkward beginning, where kids could only read for 10 to 20mins, I extended the time slowly each week. It was not consistent at first, but with another new series of the below books, kids are getting more comfortable to the routine. Now, they automatically pick up their chinese books to read after dinner without my promptings. Lately they also bring a Chinese and English book whenever we go out. During any waiting time, they will be found reading the chinese books! Imagine my delight on the new habit gaining ground!
For now, the below books are quite popular locally.
Taoshu has a few sets which touches on different aspects like character, nature and knowledge. I love how it uses large prints with good command of language to impart values and increase vocabulary. It only gives HYPY for characters that are more difficult.
My girl has been learning to read on her own these series a few pages at a time. 又是这一班 and Plants vs Zombies are simple comic-al ones to whet the boys’ appetite to read a chinese book. 闹闹 is good for local flavours of the classroom scenarios. I got these from Maha Yu yi bookstore. They are also available at Popular bookshops.
My Taobao Loot
Thanks to a recommendation by someone in my bilingual group, this 杨红樱童话 surprisingly attracted my 7yo girl. The book contains many short stories which is manageable for my girl to read and understand the content written. We enjoy the lovely childlike illustrations. You can check out the Taobao link HERE. By the way my lovely sis-in-law helped me with this purchases and saved me the hassle of Tabao-ing. : P
This is a beautiful sight whenever I catch my kids enjoying the series in and out of home. This is officially their favourite copies to bring out to read during any waiting time. J took to this like a fish in the sea and devoured 5 books within 2 weeks!
These are the winning factors for this series.
1) Illustrations are witty, fun, vibrant and attractive.
J keeps pointing out to me the quirky and comical instances. He noticed this poor chick who was in dire need to use the loo. Can you spot him in the seat?
Over here, he was so amused that this chick finally got relieved at that chair like potty! They also pointed out the hilarious painting gate-crashed by another chick’s portrait….. The visuals provided them with endless entertainment.
2) The original authors wrote this series in French. They were translated into mandarin version which provides quality content in mandarin.
3) The mandarin version is easy to read without too many challenging words to learn. It suited my kids’ level of proficiency, thus making it less intimidating and more attractive for them to read for leisure.
4) It has meaningful and valuable content that inspires creativity and an adventurous spirit. It is about this chicken who desires to see the world and heads off for her own adventures. She overcomes various difficulties and finds her partner in the process. The second book talks about the adventures of her young chick.
Click HERE to check out the Taobao link.
The wonderful thing about having HYPY books in these young reader-friendly books would be the independent reading that comes with it. I do not need to read aloud to them. Even if they do depend on the HYPY, they will still be exposed to the language and vocabulary contained in them. The most important aspect of learning mandarin has been successfully overcome – To break their dislike for this language and restore a positive relationship between chinese learning and my kids.
All that I have done above, may or may not translate to better scores in my children’s exam grades. Unlike practising Chinese with assessments per say, learning to read in Chinese is a slow and tedious process. Somehow I feel that assessment practices only addresses the technical language aspect and does not cater to the cravings and wonders of man’s thirst for meaningful learning. Assessments definitely has its place in our pursuit of academic excellence. However, I know of students who will not do anything that has no “exam value”. For instance, reading chinese books will not directly help them score in the exams, therefore, they would just focus on practising tests after tests to get that perfect score. Before my kids reach that kind of thinking in their teens, I wish to inculcate the joy of learning even in subjects they dislike.
My ultimate goal is not for them to score well in exams via learning to read. It is to help them attain a certain level of literacy in their adulthood so that they can read magazines and short chinese articles and brochures. If they can read the chinese newspapers, that would be a bonus! Before that can be done, I desire to help them enjoy Chinese learning through meaningful and fun books from young. Hopefully, this habit will help develop a positive attitude towards reading Chinese materials in future.
‘Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.’ (Francis Chan)
Let me conclude with the above quote.
What is it that really matters?
For us, buidling a strong connection with each child and teaching them about our eternal God and enjoying to learn along life’s journey essentially matters.
For now, I am very encouraged by the kids’ progress. Lastly, stay tune for the Inspiring Chinese Books that I will Giveaway in about 1 to 2 months time! That includes the above set of 卡莓拉 if you can wait！
For those who lack ideas and resources for Chinese Learning, check out these wonderful Instagrammers who have inspired me in my Chinese teaching and learning.
C.H.A.L.K Academy : Betty successfully educates her daughter to read Chinese books with her creative and simple to execute ideas. Marvellous for mums who has limited time but wishes to engage with simple set ups like this Colour matching Popsicles activity for Chinese learning in a fun and exciting manner.
Stickiemail : Diana painstakingly creates Chinese worksheets for her kid to learn after she does playful and meaningful activities on the words!
Playlexue : This mumpreneur now sells her creative materials that will definitely boost your kids’ interest in Chinese! I particularly love her set of chinese strokes which you can play and learn the strokes of characters.
Le Box : Another set of Mumprenuers who developed their own Chinese learning kits. Great for busy mums who needs such instant resources to engage your child.
Our Little Playroom : This tireless working mum goes all out to engage junior in her Chinese lessons filled with interesting ideas.
For more Chinese Learning Posts
- Free Chinese Illustrations Printables (四五快读）
- Our Favourite Chinese Picture Books
- Review of Chinese Comics, Chapter Books and More
- Resourceful Ways to Help Children Learn Chinese (四五快读 and More)
- Chinese Learning Video Series
- 47 Chinese Qns to ask instead of How was your day?
- Learning Chinese through a Chinese Translating App
- Chinese Copy Cat 1
- Growing In Touch with being a Chinese
If you enjoyed the post, help share this post and follow our journey at