July is officially here, and the days are sunny and long! Although we have been officially on summer break for a few weeks, I have finally figured out our summer plan! Writing about our 2017-2018 trilingual family schedule was helpful for me to reflect, reorganize, and plan our summer learning goals and schedule.
The goal for the summer is for the schedule to be as flexible and relaxed as possible! I have adjusted my work schedule to spend more time with the kids, and it has taken a few weeks to settle in a new routine since preschool ended. To plan the summer, my 4.5 老大 made a bucket list with our nanny for fun outings. Although there is not much to do in our small town, my kids are still young, so going to different parks and beaches is very exciting for them! My 21-month-old 老二 even squeals with delight when he goes to the grocery store. Anyway, after putting the “fun stuff” on the calendar, we penciled in learning time for Chinese, Korean, English, and math.
Recap of last year’s language schedule
In case you missed the post about our schedule for the past school year, this was the breakdown of my kids’ language exposure:
- 老大 has ~91 waking hours per week
- Chinese = 35 hours (38%)
- English = 37 hours (41%)
- Korean = 19 hours (21%)
- Chinese = 35 hours (38%)
- 老二 has ~84 waking hours (nap for 1-2 hours/day)
- Chinese = 35 hours (42%)
- English = 20 hours (24%)
- Korean = 29 hours (34%)
Basically, my daughter was barely getting 20% of Korean immersion time during the week, and her Korean was suffering. I still need to write a full post on this someday, but we took an 8-month Korean reading break and stopped weekly Korean lessons. Although she learned to read and write Korean by age 3, her Korean speaking skills regressed after starting school. It didn’t make sense to spend time on reading when she was not even speaking Korean consistently. When the kids are with our nanny, my daughter often speaks to my son in English & Chinese because those languages are most comfortable due to exposure.
Chinese progress was relatively slow last year. 老大 learned ~600-700 characters rapidly before she turned 4. Since then, I have not had time to keep count after finishing 四五快读, and I’m not sure if we’ve reached 1000 characters yet. However, since 老二 is so active and has different needs, we are not able to sit down for long periods of quiet reading time like when he was an infant. No worries though – learning always has ebbs and flows. In the meantime, the kids are learning different life skills, such as how to coexist, fight for their needs, and then forgive and play with each other!
Changes for this summer
- The big change for the summer will be not attending school. Thanks to advice from friends, I have decided not to register for any camps. Therefore, other than playdates, 老大 will get more bonding time with our nanny and 老二.
- I am also going to spend each Monday with 老大, and take half-days on Friday. This means that I’m typing this post at 4 am! But there are only 24 hours in a day and not enough time to accomplish everything during daylight hours!
- 老大’s Chinese tutor is away for the summer.
- 老大 is starting swimming lessons. Whoohoo!
- I will start teaching 老大 how to read English. I was going to put this off for as long as possible, especially since she says she prefers to learn traditional Chinese instead. But English is her native language, she’s known her alphabet since age 18 months and has been writing since age 3. So it’s a big developmental discrepancy to not be able to read English other than high-frequency sight words. The other factor that lead me to start teaching English is that her math level is above age-level, but she cannot read her Singapore math workbooks.
An ongoing challenge has been balancing the needs of both kids who are 3 years apart. My son still nurses several times per day and cannot sit very long during story time, behaviors which are normal for his age. Since he started walking about a year ago, he would walk off with our books, and story time would just go downhill from there! Not to complain though – he is very cute, and the kids have so much fun playing together now! He is gradually starting to play independently and loves to build trains and houses for his little animals. However, his unpredictability makes structured learning for 老大 very difficult.
Summer learning goals and plan:
I have not previously set specific learning goals for my kids, because my main goal is for my children to be interested in Chinese & Korean and to simply know more than the previous day. Also, due to my lack of fluency, I’m honestly not sure how far we can get on this journey without more frequent exposure to a native speaker. Regardless, since my husband and I both grew up in strict households with little time for free play, we want our kids to truly enjoy their childhood and not feel academic pressure at a young age. However, I think a general schedule will help us stay organized.
We don’t really have extra time for English reading lessons as I’m not willing to compromise time from free play. Therefore, I am planning on combining English and Chinese learning. I’m not worried that she will start mixing up the languages since she has a clear understanding of her different languages. I also don’t want to spend any time making English activities, because I need to save that energy for myself to learn Chinese.
Extracurricular activities for this summer will be swimming, dance, and Sunday school. The majority of the time will be free play with some academic learning mixed in! Here are general learning goals and plans for 老大:
- Current level:
- Pronounces correct tone most of the time
- Comfortably reads most simple picture books and some bridge books in simplified Chinese without pinyin
- Can read some traditional Chinese due to Qiaohu; not sure how many characters
- Has good comprehension on first read
- Sometimes reads too fast and skips words
- Writes Chinese numbers and a few other basic characters by memory; copies other characters in a made-up stroke order
- Says she wants to be a Chinese teacher when she grows up!
- Use finger or index card to keep track of reading spot to prevent rushing
- Start and finish Odonata readers, 100-1200 simplified Chinese characters
- Start to learn stroke order and writing
- Start to learn traditional Chinese characters – still debating about which program to use, but considering Little Chinese Readers
- Spend one morning per week dedicated to one-on-one Chinese reading and writing while our nanny is with our son. While it would be ideal for lessons to be spread out throughout the week, my daughter can focus on Chinese for several hours at a time and has trouble transitioning if we shorten the time. I think its because she knows Chinese learning time is special time with mommy. I am also not able to do daily reading lessons due to my work schedule, so I try to do Chinese literacy activities and games on those other days.
- Watch educational Chinese videos for up to 30 minutes per day
- Read at least 2 Chinese picture books per day with both kids.
- Current level:
- Correct pronunciation most of the time
- Despite the long reading hiatus, still remembers how to read and blend Hangul
- Reluctantly reads picture books
- Has questionable comprehension; often says “I don’t know” after reading
- Enjoys writing
- Learn proper stroke order (this will help with Chinese writing as well)
- Improve speaking consistency and listening comprehension
- Improve interest in reading and reading comprehension
- Nanny to read to kids as often as possible!
- More hands-on Korean literacy activities
- Dedicated reading and writing practice twice a week for up to 15minutes on alternating days (In contrast to Chinese, she can tolerate Korean homework for very short periods)
- Current level:
- Strongest spoken language
- Reads high-frequency words (eg, love, color names, happy, frozen, mom, dad, etc)
- Knows phonetic sounds; I think she can blend single syllable words
- Says she does not want to learn how to read English!
- Read Bob books twice per week
- Current level:
- Mental math: double digit with single digit addition and subtraction; simple division & multiplication of small numbers in English & Chinese; can read and count numbers up to 10,000 in Chinese
- Enjoys verbal word problems
- Uses Montessori beads to self-solve challenging problems
- Can complete horizontal equations
- Learn vertical equations
- Complete Singapore Math 1A & 1B
- Math workbooks twice a week for a few minutes during lunch
- Verbal word problems daily – I integrate this with play, or she will make up questions herself
- Continue self-learning through Montessori beads
These are lofty summer learning goals, and I’m sure we will fall short! But now it’s public on the internet for accountability! I figure if we aim high, we might be surprised at how much we can accomplish! Regardless, learning time with my kids is fun, and I love seeing what they discover each day!
Check out the home learning schedules of other bilingual English/Chinese-speaking families:
- CEBilingual – Double working parent family with 2 teenagers
- Mandarin Mama – Homeschooling with 4 kids (toddlers and school-age)
- Guavarama – Montessori homeschooling with 2 school-aged kids
- Happy Tot Shelf – Home learning with 2 toddlers
- Hands-On Chinese Fun – Home learning with a Kindergartner
For more advice on raising multilingual children, please refer to the following posts:
- Raising Multilingual Children As a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned in 2017
- Teach Your Child A Second Language at Home: 5 Key Steps
- Raising Bilingual Children – Who Should Speak What? (From huffingtonpost.com)
- How To Create a Chinese Language Ecosystem (From cebilingual.org)
- Raising Multilingual Montessori Kids (From montessorinature.com)
- The Do’s and Dont’s of Raising Bilingual Kids (From bilingualkidspot.com)
- How To Jumpstart Your Kid’s Chinese (From mandarinmama.com)
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Happy learning, friends!