If you have ever tried to get your child to sit and write anything, you will most likely agree with me that getting your child to write willingly can be a real pain! My children see writing as hard work, so that led me to think: how can I teach my children to write Chinese with minimal resistance and 100% success?
The answer: Rainbow Words!
How to teach children Chinese writing with worksheets and rainbow words
The Chinese writing worksheets I found online tend to be quite small which did not suit my teaching needs.
And I much prefer my children to learn proper strokes right from the beginning, so I made these bigger Chinese character worksheets.
There is only 1 Chinese character on each sheet, prominently displayed for the most part, so my kids can see the numbers and arrowed lines for the stroke order. At the bottom of the worksheet, I put in practise squares which allows them to trace first, and then write the Chinese words independently.
Setting up your rainbow words activity
You will need
- colour pencils/crayons/markers (select according to their writing capability)
- Chinese character worksheets
- Patience and a happy encouraging smile 😃
In terms of writing materials to use. My recommendation is to use colour pencils or crayons over markers.. The reason is that children will develop better fine motor strength as they have to work on holding the pencils properly to write, and to press down on the paper. There are a fantastic variety of pencil sizes to suit little chubby hands in the market these days.
Whatever you do, don’t stinge on pencils! Getting a proper set of writing tools can make a difference in your child’s pencil grip. PLD Literacy has a clear visual guide on pencil grip and recommendations.
For colour pencils, consider these ones: Koala Tools, Lyra Ferby, or Lyra Color Giant.
For regular lead pencils consider these ones: Lyra Ferby graphite, Koala Tools graphite, or Ticonderogo My first tri-write.
For young toddlers, Crayola is my personal preferred brand, as the colours are bright, and most importantly stray marks are easy to clean off! They do these jumbo crayons, and triangular crayons.
If you are thinking of getting pencils grips. My advice is to get it only if your child already has a poor pencil posture and needs remediation. Otherwise getting chunky triangular pencils such as those listed above, will help in developing your child’s pencil grip. Your Kids OT list the reasons succinctly why pencil grips may not be your answer to a poor pencil posture. Which is exactly my personal experience with my own children and the numerous children with special needs I have worked with.
Rainbow words activity - Ready Set Write!
Ok and now for the hard part. Your child will have to pick 7 coloured pencils. (Only 7!) Honestly, that was my children’s hardest bit, choosing only 7 colours.
Right, and onto the slightly easier part. “Decorate” their words in a beautiful and dazzling array of rainbow colours!
If your children are young like mine, don’t forget to be very encouraging and praise their effort. Encourage their little improvements. Their Chinese words may not look like the actual word at this moment, but practise makes perfect right? Or as we say in Chinese, 熟能生巧！
*Tip 1: Depending on how complex the Chinese character (e.g.亮 vs 人）you are practising, you can certainly cut them some slack by physically holding their hands and help them to trace the words a few times (physical prompts).
*Tip 2: Say the number out loud as your child traces. It will help them to scan the word and navigate the writing themselves, which will help them later on when they have to write unaided.
As a stay at home mom to three children under 6 years old, I would love to do more writing exercises but I have to be honest with myself about what I can achieve in our daily Chinese lessons. So I say to you too, my fellow Mandarin homeschoolers: Pick your battles. If you think your child will only happily do 1 worksheet that day, do 1. If they seemed to enjoy the word formation exercises, you can persuade them to try a couple more, great! NEVER EVER FORCE a child to write more than they want to. That just kills the joy of writing and learning.
Yes, teaching your child Chinese writing can be difficult at first, but if you can work this into your daily routine (it really only takes 5 minutes a day!) you and your child will be rewarded with proper stroke order and a better awareness of the Chinese characters.
Writing can help to improve your child’s reading skills in more ways than you can imagine, such as better information retention, and clearer conceptual understanding. So don’t neglect it, and always try to weave it into your Chinese home lessons.
Do share with me how your lesson went! It’s always nice to hear from fellow homeschoolers.
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