In my post: How to Raise a Bilingual Child, I shared some ideas about how to help a child learn a second language. In this post, I will talk about how to teach a kid Mandarin Chinese at home.
Because of various reasons, some parents decide to homeschool their children Mandarin Chinese.
If you don’t speak Mandarin Chinese and you wish to homeschool your child Chinese, you might need some extra help. Try to find a Mandarin Chinese speaking tutor, teacher, nanny, baby sitter or au pair. If you can’t find someone in your area, then try to find help online.
There are some misunderstandings when homeschooling a child Chinese.
1, Some parents believe it is important to know many characters, so they spend a lot of time teaching their children Chinese characters only based on a list of mostly used characters.
However, recognizing characters alone is not enough. After all, the purpose of learning a language is communication.
If a child knows a lot of characters but he can’t communicate with those characters he knows, it is not a successful language learning experience.
2, Some parents think handwriting is important. They require their children to practice writing all the time.
In the past, knowing how to write characters is very important, but not any more. With the help of technology, it is very possible that this new generation have few chances to handwrite characters.
Because of this reason, it is time-wasting to focus on teaching Chinese writing.
Of course, it is necessary to know basic rules of Character writing. In my post: Basic Rules for Writing Chinese Characters,I shared some ideas on this topic.
In a word, knowing how to write characters is necessary, but writing shouldn’t play an important role when it comes to learning Chinese.
In my post: The Best Way to Learn Mandarin Chinese, I mentioned the best way of learning Chinese is reading aloud. I suggest a Chinese learner to read a story or any meaningful Chinese materials.
By reading aloud, a child will focus on recognizing Chinese characters, at the same time, he will better understand the meaning of characters in context.
Finding a well written Chinese textbook including stories and useful phrases designed for homeschooling English speaking children is a good idea. In case you need, click this link to download different textbooks.
If you can’t find this type of textbook, then try to find a series of Chinese story books with different learning levels covering basic characters on various subjects.
If you don’t speak Mandarin Chinese, it is always a better idea to have materials coming along with audios or videos.
Ask your child to read a Chinese textbook or a story book every day or times a week depending on your own schedule.
Always go over what he learned while he keeps learning new characters and stories. In this way, he will memorize most characters.
At the same time, provide your child extra reading materials, audios, videos and learning activities such as games, craft projects to make sure your child really understands these Chinese characters in a meaningful way.
By the way, I don’t think it is a good idea to teach a child Pinyin at early age. You had better wait until your child goes to third or fourth grade or he might mix up English and Pinyin.
However, when you start to teach your child Pinyin, it is always important and very necessary to help your child pronounce Pinyin in the right way.
Please read my post: How to Pronounce Mandarin-Chinese Tones to learn more about this topic.
Communicating in Chinese is also important besides reading. Try to find opportunities for your child to practice his Chinese speaking.
If your child doesn’t want to learn Chinese sometimes, to be honest, my child has this issue too, try to negotiation with him, for example, he can’t watch TV until he finishes his Chinese homework.
Have a reasonable expectation for your child’s Chinese learning. Writing well is not very necessary, but reading fluency is a must.
To some parents, homeschooling Chinese is not an easy job, but this job can be done.
Be persistent. Be creative. Find support you need. Set up rules. Have fun. I am sure your child will have good time with his Chinese learning at home.
Enjoy your homeschooling.