Workplan 2015-2016

Last year, I had a work plan that I probably followed for about a few weeks.  I felt bad that I posted about it and didn’t actually use it.  This year’s work plan has been test driven for a few months and so far it’s sticking.

The biggest mistake I made last year was not having a tight work plan.  I gave Thumper way too many choices.  Without a classroom routine set up, she did not know how to use her freedom of choice.   It’s akin to teaching Thumper how to cook by showing her each step slowly, making sure she has mastered certain skills, before giving her more responsibilities.  For example, to teach her to make hot chocolate, first she learned to just mix the cocoa and sugar, then I taught her how to pour milk into a pot and use the stove to warm it up.  Only after she’s shown me she’s very careful with heated food did I allow her to pour her own milk into the hot chocolate mix.  This took at least 6 months.  I realized I needed to really show the kids the steps before giving them free rein.  It’s inherently different in a homeschool because the child isn’t coming into a very well established classroom with kids showing them how to do these things.  So it’s all up to me to implement them.

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Some random thoughts on homeschooling and bilingualism

I need a brain dump. Can’t quite focus because too many strands of ideas in my head.  Blogging is like the penseive from Harry Potter.  It empties my mind enough so I can do things I don’t want to do.  ha!

I’ve been super sick the last week. Finally getting better. Pretty much the kids had free rein this week other than Monday. Amazingly the big one still managed to get this done. If that first year was about them learning the rules and procedures of homeschooling and the classroom, and practical life skills, then I think this year has been about learning how to manage their work plan and work records.

Little things happen in life and makes me feel that most of what I’m most happy teaching and why I like homeschooling is all the non academic stuff. It’s not doing the work that’s important, but the fact that I’m teaching her how to juggle things we need to do in life vs the things she’d like to do.  I like that homeschooling allows me to not constantly tell Thumper what to do, because I know I do that often enough already.  When the kids went to school and I worked, things were so busy it’s really hard not to just say, “Do this, and do that.  Hurry hurry hurry!”

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Zhuyin Class Week 9

Ahhh,  Week 9, or more aptly, lesson 9.   In the Kang Xuan textbook, week 9 introduces the last of the compound zhuyins.  I can’t believe we’re almost done after 6 months.  At this point, I’m actually thinking of just letting Astroboy not practice anymore after this semester, unless he picks it up himself.   He has this tendency, even when a page has only 1 character he doesn’t recognize, to read the zhuyin.  I know this because he takes so long at reading each character (since he’s slowly sounding out the zhuyin), but if I block out the zhuyin of the character he knows, he reads them faster.

The only reason we started zhuyin for Astroboy was because his sister was in the class.  Before then, I had the thought that kids don’t really need to start till after learning the 500 Sagebook characters.  Seeing Astroboy reading like this, I’m inclined to go with my original idea.  I know that an older kid won’t necessarily do this.  But in a way, Astroboy got introduced to zhuyin even before we really focused on Sagebooks and I need to switch his comfort level to the other way around.

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Zhuyin Weeks 6-8

Kind of back posting here, as we’re now on Lesson  9 and 6-7 weeks have passed.

The last few weeks we’ve just been doing various reviews.  Nothing exciting.  They often have some sort of reading simple words or sentences component and writing simple words and sentences.

Starting from week 8 I went back to what we did the first few weeks of class and we played bingo games and flashcard games.  At this point a lot of compound zhuyin are being introduced and it was time to go back to associating sounds with symbols stage of learning.

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Zhuyin Week 4, 5

We’ve had 8 weeks of class.  But we only officially finished week 5 of the Kang Xuan zhuyin textbook.  It kind of evened out to 3 “classes” per chapter.

I recently realized, Taiwan spents 10 weeks, 5 days a week on zhuyin (國文課), this means children are expected to know zhuyin after about 50 classes.  I calculated that Astroboy will have had 51 classes by mid December.   He’s not at the level that first graders are doing, at least from the samples I see.  It’s hard for him because he can’t hold a pencil to write for long.  But he’s so close to reading better.  So it sounds about right to me.

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Sagebooks Chinese Writer Character packs

trainchineseFinally, I’m starting on compiling the resources I use to go with my Sagebooks.  Getting off my behind because Astroboy consistently cannot remember 10-15 characters from the second set, despite our reviews.  So it it time to whip out the other materials to help him remember.

We’ve been using Anki to make sure he remembers some of the old characters from Set 1 (we’re in Set 3).  Next up is Train Chinese’s Chinese Writer character packs.  The app itself is available for iTunes and Android.  This is a program which allows children to practice Chinese writing with a game app.  I don’t love the program because the font it uses for its writing is bad.  (My pet peeve, people who don’t notice these details.)   This is not a writing font, and for me it is unconsciously telling kids who use the app how they should write these characters, but it’s wrong.  For example, look at the character for 四, 回.  It should be (mostly) a box on the outside.

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Audio: 寫給兒童的世界歷史 The Children Can Read World History

Age: 8
Grade: 3rd and up


A few weeks ago, I borrowed Story of the World for Thumper on audio tape.  I first heard about it through What Did We Do All Day.  She uses it with the Writing with Ease curriculum.  We’ve not gone that route yet, instead just listening in the car when we run out of things to listen to.

Thumper has been begging to listen to this series, along with Magic Treehouse.  I dole it out though because she’s been speaking way too much English and doesn’t seem to remember what she’s reading in Chinese.

Last week, I finally decided to look at my saved podcasts and re-discovered my Children Can Read World History podcasts from that I’d saved months ago.  We listened to the first 6-7 stories in the car and I’m amazed at just how closely it hews to Story of the World, though the content is sometimes different.

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