I’ve heard many parents lament that Chinese goes down the drain once kids enter elementary school. Even with all this forewarning, I never thought things would change so soon and so swiftly. I guess in my mind I had pictured it occurring sometime in middle or high school.
Last year, i.e. kindergarten year, everything was fine and proceeded pretty much just like preschool.
Enter first grade. ACK!!!
It’s not that my son doesn’t like Chinese because he likes it very much and speaks and reads Chinese books every day. What changed is…
Somewhere along 6 and 7 years old, suddenly I was no longer needed. Play dates and birthday parties became drop-offs and my role these days is being his chauffeur. How did it go from attached-to-me-at-the-hip to this in the blink of an eye?
The other thing about growing up is, burgeoning interests and hobbies. And if this new hobby takes up 20 hours per week?? Time that was previously dedicated to Chinese? The truth is that we have had to drop some Chinese commitments because there are only so many hours in a day.
Nobody cared much about academics in kindergarten but in first grade, suddenly the sh*t got real. This year I started feeling like scores and grades are serious and impact whether or not your child gets selected for opportunities.
Parental Questions 🤯🤯🤯: What are you willing to give up in the pursuit of Chinese? Should you turn down play dates and spend those hours at home learning? And if so what is the impact on your child socially and will he/she resent you for it?
Should you not spend any time on English and focus resolutely on Chinese, thereby missing out on competitions in elementary school? Do these even have any long term benefit or impact?
The bright side is thank goodness he developed habits to speak and read Chinese fluently before age 7 and these have been maintained.
Reading wise, he has finally moved on from reading Zorori 怪杰佐罗力 after reading each book repeatedly for the last six months! If there are other parents with kids “stuck” on a certain book, be patient and they will grow out of it on their own.
These days I have noticed that Little Man can read Traditional and Simplified with or without phonetic assistance. The transition to no phonetics happened naturally on its own, starting with reading comics and then moving on to more wordy stuff. If you ask me, all that re-reading of Zorori helped a lot with his fluency and word recognition. I have no other way of explaining how he can read Traditional fluently without ever being taught how to read Traditional characters.
The other series he LOVES and has been repeat reading is Ne Zha 哪吒 and Ma Zu 妈祖 as shown below. He asked for longer versions of these two stories so I have been on the lookout. He also enjoys PvZ and Mi Xiao Quan idiom comics, first with me reading them to him then reading them himself.
Some readers asked me how I support my son’s Spanish when I don’t speak the language. The short answer is: I don’t. All I do is send him to a Spanish immersion school and pay for his online tutoring 1-2x per week.
He is reportedly “exceeding expectations” in Spanish and his school does a great job individualizing and giving him support to meet his needs.
Don’t hesitate to advocate for your child with the school. I send occasional emails to teachers to check in or advocate for XYZ and it’s made a world of difference. If something is not working for your child, speak up and fix it.
Long story short, Chinese is still going well but I have noticed a huge shift in my priorities this year. I no longer spend all my time researching, buying, blogging, teaching Chinese… how weird is that?
I am afraid of what it’ll look like a year from now when I post Second Grade Updates!