Friday, 2 August 2013


I am in a bit of a fix now. I am so haphazard in my lessons with Sonshine that I don't even know what I'm doing nor do I feel he's learning anything new. Right now, we are just doing assessment books. But that's mainly revision and sometimes he needs to be taught before he can work on the books properly- especially for Mandarin.
That's why this post is born. I am trying to sort out my thoughts here. I find I think better when I am blogging- or writing it down.
For Mandarin, there are a few areas I want to tackle; writing (not just spelling but also composing sentences), vocabulary, Hanyu Pinyin, comprehension and oral. I know there are alot more, but that's overloading my plate already. While I know what are the areas I want to work on but, my problem is I don't know How. Here are some of my possibilities:
1) I read that the most traditional way of teaching writing is using 扑部 ( Sorry, I don't know if I'm using the right term). I can see why so. I think it is a reasonable way to teach writing (and word recognition too). It gives good visuals to the child; how the words can have the same 扑部 but form different words and meanings.

I could supplement 扑部 methodology with these visual aids I own which means I can incorporate some fun learning.

2) Or I could teach by theme. He learns to write the words within a particular theme like body parts, things in the house, school etc. I think this is good way too because it helps in learning new words more meaningfully.

3) Or I could rely on this other assessment book. I like this because it is a quick way to teach writing. The lessons are planned in such a way that it builds on each other, the words he learn can eventually write in sentences. Good way to learn sentence building too.

1) I could use the famous SWKD. I like it because the lessons have been nicely planned out for me. Each lesson is built on the previous ones therefore enabling the child to read in sentences and later paragraphs. I also like that Sonshine can learn a lot of words in a short time.

2) Again, I could use thematic approach. I can teach vocabulary by things in bedroom, classroom, playground etc. I think thematic is good because it helps him to compartmentalise the words into different categories. Again, hopefully that would be helpful in his oral.
Hanyu Pinyin

I have no doubt how i want to teach this. I'll use this as the base of my lessons.

And do alot of assessment books! HA!

I reckon there is no other way to practise comprehension than to work on assessment books?


I bought an oral assessment book and notice that most of the picture exercises go by theme like a picture of a classroom, living room, birthday parties etc. That made me realised it is important for Sonshine to know the words relating to each scenarios.
Next, comes the big picture question. Do i use different approach for each areas or use same approach for all areas. Like I could use thematic approach for all areas. For example, he could learn to new words (vocab), write words (writing), hanyu pinyin and read comprehension passages all relating to a birthday party. But that means alot of homework at my end. I have to source out the related themes under each category- ok that thought is making me tired already. And if do use the all thematic approach, it means alot of things have to go like SWKD and my other teaching aids- what a waste of money. 
But if i use all different approaches, would that confuse the boy? Yet, I think it is also a quick way to up his vocabulary if he learns writing say relating to body parts, while he learns vocab relating to the zoo and so on. The good is, I have everything planned out for me. No homework is needed on my part (ooo, that sounds SO good).
Lastly, my greatest challenge of all. How do I teach all these systematically when I've to consider other subjects as well? And I only have about 20 minutes tops with him everyday (not willing to compromise anything else).
*Shrug* I don't know.
And the morale of my story? Don't buy too many assessment books and teaching aids. You'll end up more confuse than ever! That's where I am right now! And I haven't even talk about English too!


  1. Ha... I like your conclusion: "Don't buy too many assessment books and teaching aids. You'll end up more confuse than ever!"

    Let's try going back to a basic method, e.g. Montessori. The beauty of Montessori is that various subjects can be linked to each other, allowing a smooth flow and deep understanding. Since you're schooling 1 child at this age, you can ride on his interest for the period.

    E.g. Just attended a friend's birthday party? Can start a theme on that, pick and choose all the relevant stuff from your existing resources. Should be fine to jump around pages in assessment books? Often, I cut out all the pages from activity books, pick out the relevant ones for the week / day, then slot them into plastic slots.

    As for comprehension, I like post-reading discussions, using good literature. It's much more interactive and interesting. The important parts should be logical understanding and sentence construction. You may use the assessment books as a guide to how questions are asked in school. The child may write out his "answers", a summary, review of the book, etc. post-reading. On construction paper, using marker pens, etc. anything that interests him?

    Word-recognition / vocab: I prefer to use 1 good reading series (we use Odonata 红蜻蜓) and just stick to that. As long as it's good and the child likes it, I'll stick to one. Anything else, just rely on wide reading of quality literature.

    Audio: I love using this resource. Mostly independent learning, just play for him to listen -- play-time / meal-time / on the road. I learnt reading via cassette tapes with story books set while mum was busy with housework. Now even easier with Apple iTunes to organise everything. I bought lots of CDs from ThreeSevenTwoShop, available at Popular. The pronunciation is excellent and the Chinese classics are full of complex words and moral values.

    In simple terms for any language: listen, read, discuss, write. Definitely can handle it! Jia you! :)

    (P.S. I'm only "expert" with my 4.5-year old, so this is the little I know. I'm hoping to "escape" the rat race for as long as possible. We're enrolling in a Chinese-based primary school in Malaysia, so the above is my basic homeschooling plan for Chinese now.)

  2. Thanks mievee!! I love montessori but I'm finding it hard to use it for 6 year olds and beyond- especially for math and English. Do you know of any? But yah will keep the monte philosophy in mind when planning!

    Oooo love the CDs you mentioned. At popular? These are Chinese audio CDs? I didn't know they sell have it! What is called? 372shop? In mandarin I suppose? Haha.

    Good on you! I think im more or less suck into the rat race! I use assessment books for Sonshine because it's really more convenient than to keep planning & creating activities. I don't know how you do it with 2 kids & counting! Hats off! :)

  3. Wow! I am impressed that you use so many methods on teaching! I don't even know much about these methods. For my teaching for the kids, I actually rely much on their pre-school learning. On and off, I will think of ideas to teach them on money, maths, Chinese and English in my own ways. For Chinese, I print out words and stick them beside things like toothbrush, basin, television, etc. For money, I pretend play with them on playing selling and buying at the market. I wrote a post on it too if you are interested ( Also, even watching TV, I encourage my kids to read subtitles and now they are speed-reading and learning English and Chinese at the same time. I believe that every moment of play is a learning opportunity. It's how we spot these opportunities and apply as fun learning.

  4. Sometimes I feel lost too and not know what to teach. But I'm only doing HL and not HS :) Ha, also bought the SWKD set but only went through ONE UNIT! Haha. Mummy has difficulty reading even the instructions!