As we all know, Chinese characters are an essential part of Chinese language. Should children learn to write Chinese characters? As the basic units of the language, Chinese characters are necessary to learn, even for kids at young age. Here are seven tips on teaching kids to write Chinese characters.
First, let’s have a look at the 3 phases of Chinese character learning:
1: Recognizing the character shape and knowing its meaning
2: Understanding the tone and pronunciation of the character in context
3: Knowing how to write the characters by the right stroke order
For very young kids, it is enough to stay at phase 1 and/or 2 until either the fine motor skills of the child is developed or the child has shown interest in “drawing” the characters. Gradually, tracing the strokes of the characters need to be introduced and the child learns how to write Chinese characters.
How to teach kids to write Chinese characters? Here are 7 tips:
TIP #1: EXPOSE CHILDREN TO CHINESE CHARACTERS
Children got to have a general impression of the characters before they attempt to write them. Many Chinese learning materials can help children to be exposed to Chinese characters: books, labels, flash cards, posters… you name it. Themed-based Word walls are especially effective because the characters are categorized and are connected. Putting labels on different objects at home can also be useful since they help establish the links between the characters and the objects.
Some books you may find useful:
TIP #2: MODEL THE WRITING FOLLOWING THE RIGHT STROKE ORDER
To ensure children understand, we can demonstrate how to write the characters and repeat it several times before we invite the kids to try. For example, we can write down the character slowly on the white board first, asking the children to pay attention to the stroke orders. Then we can write it again. Ask a child to identify the orders and mark them on the strokes with a marker of different color. Finally ask a couple of children to the white board to write it while the rest of the class write together with them.
As a rule of thumb, the stoke orders should be from top to the bottom, from left to the right and from outside to inside.
If you want to show the children an animated version of writing a character, you can use Animated stroke order for Chinese characters to show it.
As you can see, you can specify the colors, numbers of characters to be shown and the animation speed.
TIP #3: MAKE THE PRACTICE FUN
Writing Chinese characters can be boring sometimes. It is really up to the teachers and parents to make it fun for kids! Here are some ideas you can consider:
- Air writing |table writing
Ask the children to write in the air of on the table. This is especially effective when children are asked to follow the order when the teacher is modeling the writing on the white board.
- Sand writing
Younger children like this practice a lot. Use a small container with a layer of sand as the write pad for children to write on. They can use a finger or a stick rather than a pen. It is easy to erase and start over.
- Make the character with beans or ribbons
Show the character to the children and ask them to make the character with beans or ribbons. For young children, it is better to hand out a character template and ask them to glue the beans or ribbons on the line. The final product is quite much like a piece of art.
- Air writing |table writing
The ideas do not stop here. Share with us your ideas and let’s make the Chinese character writing practice more fun.
TIP #4: USE ONLINE DICTIONARIES AS TOOLS
There are quite some great online dictionaries which give the meaning of the character as well as the stroke orders. They can be used as an additional tool to reinforce the learning. Here are a couple of good ones for you to use:
Yellow Bridge Chinese Dictionary
TIP #5: MAKE EACH SESSION SHORT
Try to make each writing session short, 10-15 minutes each time is enough to practice 3-5 characters. For children, this amount is sufficient.
TIP #6: PRACTICE AND BE CONSISTENT
Language learning has to be consistent. Chinese character writing needs to be done regularly. Practice makes perfect. And consistence brings success.
TIP #7: GIVE COMPLIMENT AND STOP COMPARING
As the educator, we are also cheerleaders. We should praise our children for each single step they make on the Chinese learning. Chinese character writing is not easy, it requires attention, recognition and praise.
Sometimes it is easy to fall into traps like comparing a child to another, either on their writing qualities or on their memorization. Try to stop doing so. It is not fair to compare two different children and it does not help to motivate kids to practice character writing. If you have to compare, then compare a child’s writing today to yesterday. Maybe you can identify where the child did well and where he should improve. Believe me, this is much more constructive.
WHERE TO GET THE WRITING WORKSHEETS?
There are some character writing workbooks available for purchase, for example,
If you need Chinese characters with the right stroke orders to practice Chinese writing, you may like
CHINESE4KIDS 100 CHINESE CHARACTER WRITING WORKBOOK
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You May Also Be Interested:
- Chinese4kids Membership – a portal for busy Chinese teachers and parents
- Chinese learning flashcards Hive – a flashcards library that with regular additions of new quality Chinese learning flashcards
- Chinese learning worksheets collection – Also a part of Chinese4kids membership, this collection is for teachers and parents who want to have access to engaging worksheets and activity sheets created for kids learning Mandarin Chinese as an additional language
- Speak Chinese with Kids Course