What Should I do for Chinese After Third Grade?

A few weeks ago, we visited my parents and siblings.  Watching the children interact with my parents and their friends completely in Chinese, I was reminded why I wanted the children to learn Chinese; foremost is the ability to converse comfortably with native speakers, second is ability to read, and lastly writing.

It also really hit me during our visit that Thumper is really ten.  That was the age that I immigrated to the U.S.  Though day to day, it feels like we’re doing the same thing on the CLE front, that I still obsess about how to teach Chinese and whether or not the kids are learning enough, I realized during this trip that in the back of my head I had always had age 10 as a crossover point.

At age 10, I had full on English immersion in school, though I continued reading Chinese books at home, writing letters in Chinese for 2 years (then subsequently forgot how to write Chinese completely), had a very Chinese environment at home, and served as translators for my parents.  My English was good enough because I read so much.  But in hindsight, it was not quite enough for the level of writing that my sister always seemed to have just by virtue of immigrating here at 7 instead of 10.  Only after college did I feel like I had a good command of the language.

Someone told me once that it takes about 10-15 years to master a language to a native level.  Apparently from some research somewhere.  (Don’t quote me on it.)  And looking at my experience, I have to agree.  It really did take me 15 years to finally understand the pattern of English speech and writing.

As Thumper gets to the teenage years, I find myself using English to explain concepts that, while I might be able to say in Chinese if I really really tried, they feel inherently an English (American culture) idea, and English seems a better fit to express them.

All this to say, during this trip I made peace with the fact that we’re switching over to English this year for Thumper.  In fact, because I’m also working on Astroboy‘s spoken English, I feel like I’m saying a sad little goodbye to Chinese while all these new parents sprout up on FB, sharing ideas on implementing CLE, wishing I were at the same place they are.


So what to do about Chinese after 3rd grade?  


You Asked, I Answer – Questions On 2017-2018 Homeschool Classroom

I tend to be wordy. I also tend to lose interest quickly. (Explains so much why I have such trouble homeschooling sometimes.) So I must have started 5-10 posts on various questions people ask me, or questions they post online in FB groups, but I never finish. Because as a reader, I like to skim and think, “What’s the point of your post again? Just get to the point!”

But I have so much to say! So today, I’m going to try a Q&A format instead! Hopefully I can keep the answers short.

Q: What does your homeschool classroom look like?

Our homeschool has gone from the lovely pic I have online at my FB Page to this after downsizing to a 1000ft apartment last year.   I only just unpacked and reorganized 80% last week.  You can click on the pics for a close up.


Video: 小主播看天下 Kids Newsroom

Age: 7 & 10 (Suitable for 1st grade and up)

As we shift our focus onto English this semester, I’m finding myself encountering some typical issues with learning Chinese as a second language: no time and inability to move up a level.  

The children spend a lot of their free time listening to English audio books.  I’m not stopping them because that’s my focus this semester: upping both kids’ English comprehension to the next level.  But as a result, it feels like the Chinese is just keeping pace.

Though both Thumper and Astroboy continue reading Chinese books as assignments and bedtime reading, I know better.  English aural input has a huge impact.  I can see it in the books they choose to read.  Thumper can’t quite make that jump to higher level, more difficult Chinese.  When I ask her what certain words mean in the mid to upper elementary books she’s reading, she often doesn’t know.   Astroboy is reading higher level Chinese books, but only because he’s already listened to the English audiobooks.

In any case, since we have no time with all that focus on English curriculum during the work period, a new plan of attack is needed.  To that end, I’m having the children watch newscast after dinner every night, for about 30 minutes.


Monthly Summary Nov 2017

Gah.  November ran away from me because I started feeling overwhelmed by the lack of prepping in science co-op.  We did one week of half homeschooling, where we did some Evan Moore tests because it was the end of our 6-7 week session, then took Thanksgiving week off.  Last week was getting back to schedule and it was hard.

Never again!   I learned my lesson.

Even though I felt so refreshed after my two weeks off and am once again feeling way more motivated (notice all the blog posts I’m doing again), the kids are not.  They just want to do rainbow loom and pearler beads every day.

Next time, we’re going to do light schooling and I will make them still wake up by 7:30am, so that they maintain a routine.




Monthly Summary Oct 2017

You know homeschooling is getting to you when it’s taking more than a month to post the monthly summaries.  The funny thing is, October went super duper well.  But came November, I started losing steam.  It doesn’t help matters that we can no longer sit at the sofa because it’s piled up with homeschooling crap stuff.  I start losing my mind when my environment is messy.

But, “Onwards and upwards!” as they say.  Here’s what the kids did last month.


  • English – 
  • Chinese – 
  • Math – factors, LCM, GCF, division worksheets, research measuring temperature and report, decimal place values, geometric solids

    Carved a pumpkin while I took a nap
  • Geometry – solids nomenclature, 5 types of angles
  • Science/History – What plants need to grow, Parts of plants (roots, stems, flowers, leaves, fruits), Clock of Eons
  • Others – violin book 2.5-2.7, Mission San Juan Bautista, Mission San Jose, Harvest festival, sewed halloween bag, made Deviled Eggs, Pomegranate picking fieldtrip, made Greek Pasta, carved pumpkin


  • English
    • Reading – All about Reading #29-#41, Charlie and Glass Elevator read to, Seuss books, Magic Treehouse (audiobooks)
    • Grammar – nouns vs pronouns, articles, ./?/! command review, capitals, periods, sentences, pronouns, apostrophes and contractions, adjectives,English – 
  • Chinese – zhuin writing, started on Sagebooks characters writing #1-#5, 怪傑佐羅力 40 books, 神奇樹屋 #1
  • Math – tally, calendar, multiplication memorization, division by 1 digit, 2 digit subtraction review, long division introduction, Chinese math work book first grade, building decanomial poster project, equivalent fraction, geometric solids nomenclature
  • Science/History – same as sister
  • Others – Mission San Juan Bautista, Mission San Jose, Harvest festival, sewed halloween bag, carved pumpkin, carpetry class.

Changing it up once again, I want to post pics of some of their work this month.  But of course first I must talk about it a bit because my eyes glaze over at these lists.  (I basically give this list to my ES.) (more…)

Introduction to Reptiles 爬行類

Age: 7.25 & 10

Science Co-Op Session 3 Week 2: Timeline of Life, Reptiles


  • Story on reptiles
  • Reptil Worksheet

Ahhh, winter.  I feel so unmotivated to prep.  Every week I’m thankful that neither Fleur nor Eclectic Mama has any expectations for the class.

This week we were supposed to study amphibians by dissecting a frog.  But one student isn’t here.  So instead we had a super laid back class.  Just as well because this week the children, especially Astroboy, are crazy.


Math Game Review: 24

Age: 7 & 10

Once Astroboy has mostly mastered his multiplication through various work such as Reflex Math and Speed: Multiplcation, I whipped out the 24 game that I bought from Amazon months ago.

We’ve been playing it in the car for a few months, of and on.  It’s a great road trip game if your kid likes games.  Thumper, not so much.  So she only joins when she has no better things to do in the car.

What is 24

I first learned about 24 from my public school teacher classmates in Montessori training.   It’s a way for kids to practice mental math and get their basic math operations down.

Each card in the 24 deck has 4 numbers.  You’re supposed to figure how how to use +,-,×,÷ to get these 4 numbers to 24.

For example, if you see 1,2,3,4, you can get to 24 by

  • 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 24
  • (1+2+3) x 4 = 24
  • (3 x 4) x 2 x 1 = 24
  • (3+1) x (4+2) = 24

Yes, the 3rd and 1st one are the same but to the kid who hasn’t learned commutative property, they think it’s different.

The cards have 1-3 dots to denote difficulty level. (more…)

Non-Worksheet Way to Learning Chinese & English Handwriting

Age: 7

Wow.  That title is quite a mouthful.  But I am too lazy to write two posts that essentially say the same thing.

Once he turned 7 this school yearAstroboy finally started on formal handwriting work.  Prior to this, he wrote a little, mostly because of zhuyin lessons.  But if he got tired or didn’t want to write, I tended not to push him.   I didn’t want to push writing before the kids had their pincer grip down, and sadly, my kids never had their pincer grip down early because we did very few art activities.


Workbook Options



Review: Learning Multiplication with Speed! Multiplication Card Game

Age: 6.5

Fall semester our Gap Year, Astroboy expressed an interest in multiplication.  When we came home, I dug out my multiplication card game out of my closet and we played games for a few months.

I tell people this is how Astroboy learned his multiplication.    Though that is not quite true, but that’s the next post.  However, I think this was a huge part of how he memorized multiplication table painlessly.

The game is called Speed! Multiplication.  It’s a skip counting game.  I love the cards because it is almost like a Montessori material with its bead chains printed on each hard.  If it were made in the same Montessori colors, it would be perfect.


Periodic Braindump

Other than the periodic book reviews and monthly summaries, I havn’t been writing much.  But so many things are swirling around in my head, obsessing me.  I’m working through ideas and there’s nothing right now that I could write a whole long post about yet, to talk about my findings or conclusions I’ve arrived at.  A brain dump is in order though, so I have room to actually think.

Thumper is hitting her teenage years soon and I’m starting to see signs of it.  The “You can’t make me’s”,  doing things mom disagrees with, etc.  I was a semi-rebellious daughter and it’s very strange to be on the other side of it.  I keep thinking about writing a post on Non-Violent Communication, about how I really need to read those books I bought ages and ages ago on communicating with your child, but things pull me away.

I also keep thinking about how a parent need to be so very careful of the way they talk to their children when they homeschool.   A child doesn’t get to leave a bad teacher at school at the end of the day.  They’re stuck with me.  But thinking is thinking, and actually doing something about it is something else…..