How I taught my 5 year old daughter to write Chinese characters
Updated: Oct 4
My daughter started to learn how to write Chinese characters when she was 5 years old. At first it was a struggle to get her to practice writing. She would give all sorts of excuses to get out or delay practicing for 听写. It was frustrating for me to constantly nag at her and she was so reluctant to practice her writing! Finally, after much struggling, I found some methods that really work for my daughter. Find out what I learnt from this journey of teaching my daughter.
Wanting the best for my daughter
As a mother, I wanted to teach my child the life-skills of learning how to read and write. I knew that learning how to read and write basic Chinese characters was a pre-requisite for Primary 1 and I wanted my daughter to prepare ahead.
Her response: She did not want to try writing the characters as it was too difficult for her. It became frustrating for her as the sequence of the strokes confused her and she struggled to follow and remember how to write the words like 火，生， 问，耳.
After much teaching, I realised one way to teach her the sequence of writing the strokes was to break down the Chinese character for her! So I only taught her 2 strokes at a time and it became easier. After that I made her repeat the 笔顺 so that she would remember the sequence of the strokes.
When my daughter is reading a Chinese book, she loves reading the Hanyu Pinyin that usually comes together with book, especially for books published for the Singapore market. It enables her to read the words on the page out loud and understand the story that she is reading. Hanyu Pinyin is a God-send to people like me, who can listen to Chinese and understand it, but might not know how to write difficult Chinese characters.
Tip: Use Hanyu Pinyin to teach your child Chinese, especially if you speak English at home. For a start, reading Chinese words with Hanyu Pinyin together with your child will pique her interest in Chinese. We all know that reading is an essential foundation to good writing.
If your child does not understand some words and asks you to explain it, do so. If you do not know how to explain it in Chinese, it is perfectly fine to explain it in English and then revert to reading the books in Chinese. Read different genres of books in Chinese too.
Piquing my daughter’s interest in reading Chinese books
Every child will have her favourite genre of books. To spark interest in reading, I introduced my daughter to different genres such as non-fiction science or sports books. This helped to increase her interest in reading Chinese books. It does not burn my pocket too!
I also found audio books to be very useful, as they demonstrate the correct pronunciation for certain words. After my daughter listened to Chinese audio books for children, her pronunciation became more accurate than before.
Another way of piquing my daughter's interest was to use music. She loves to sing and dance! So we listened to her favourite songs in Chinese and she learned how to write the lyrics of the songs.
Practice, practice and practice
Practice makes perfect. This is a true saying. However, to motivate the child to practice writing Chinese characters is a difficult task, especially if the child is discouraged by her lack of skill.
I often asked myself. How to make practicing fun or interesting for my daughter? I discovered that she felt frustrated when the marks that she received on her 听写 was less than satisfactory. This frustration often made her throw tantrums, as she was feeling disappointed and dejected with herself. Subsequently she was even less willing to practice.
But it was important for her to keep practicing even though it might be frustrating to do so. 听写, whilst important, is not the end all and be all. 听写 are like a mini-tests or exercises that show how much you know. Less than satisfactory marks show that there is still improvement to be made in how the words are written, one should not feel overly disappointed about the low marks.
Aiming for a holistic education
When we were young, it seemed that 听写 was a big deal and it was very important to get good marks for it. However, I now see 听写 as more of a passageway to determine how much my daughter knows about writing Chinese characters. It is not the end all and be all in learning a language. Cultivating an interest for the language is far more important, rather than just studying for 听写. A holistic development for my daughter is more important!
Find out more
Nurture Infant House (Tampines) At Nurture Infant House, our passion is to love and care for each infant and to provide a safe and interactive environment for infants to learn and grow in body and in mind independently. If you are looking for infant care in Tampines or in East, do visit Nurture Infant House. We have over 30 years of experience in nurturing thousands of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
If you are looking for a preschool for toddlers and older children in Tampines or in East, do visit Genesis Childcare 1989.
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Nurture Infant House (Tampines) (2 to 18 months Infants) Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-61 Singapore 520433
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Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-63/65 Singapore 520433