Learning to recognise Chinese characters and how to write them can be hard for young children to master. Many characters have similar strokes but with different meanings and pronunciations like 日 and目 or 未 and 末. If your child’s handwriting is illegible, the examiners can get confused when checking his answers.
Nowadays, there are many assessment books available that allow children to learn and practise writing Chinese characters. Besides relying on workbooks, there are some wonderful methods to increase their exposure such as:
Improving Chinese Character Structure Recall through Reading
Do you remember how you learnt to write Chinese characters when you were younger?
Before you teach a child how to improve on their handwriting, you should introduce to them the characters they have to memorise.
You can do this by providing them with books, flashcards, and other visual aids that feature Chinese characters. As they learn more characters, you can slowly observe their learning progress in writing these characters on their own.
Showing the Proper Stroke Order for Each Character
While memorising is one way of making sure that children remember and recognise the structure of a Chinese character, they must practise how to achieve these shapes. Before they start to practise writing these characters, you can show how the strokes are done on a whiteboard. Chinese character strokes should start from the top to the bottom half, then from the outside to the inside, and from left to right.
Make sure to do the strokes slowly so your children can recognise the stroke pattern and order. Let your children practice with you so that you are able to correct any wrong strokes or order. Practice makes perfect!
Using Different Hand-Eye Coordination Tasks to Help them Practise
If your child is just learning how to write, a good way to help them with their handwriting is by giving them hand-eye coordination tasks. These will strengthen their motor skills and gives them more confidence to practise their Chinese writing!
Some useful tasks that you can teach your kids before they start writing include colouring images, cutting shapes, and improving handgrip through activities like using tweezers to get small pieces from the table. You can even invent other hand-eye coordination tasks depending on what interests your child.
Making it a Fun Experience
Learning something difficult can be very boring for children and can affect their enthusiasm to pursue it. This is true in learning Chinese characters, especially if they have to remember the stroke sequences and the structures one by one.
However, you can change their perception by making the experience more fun. You can teach them how to write Chinese characters with the help of paints, stickers, play-dough, or even Lego blocks. You can even bring in the entire family to help your children learn Chinese characters by making a game where you write and teach certain types of characters to them.
Using Online Resources to Help
You can also use online resources such as dictionaries and other guides to help your children understand the differences and similarities between characters, as well as how to pronounce them.
Several dictionaries that show how each Chinese character is written, pronounced, and used are available online. Aside from the dictionaries, there are also online videos and animations that teach Chinese characters and how to write them.
With your guidance, you may even consider watching Chinese songs or shows on YouTube so that your kids can understand the words with melody or the context that the words were used.
Teaching them the Similarities and Differences of Each Character
Some Chinese characters look the same so it can be tricky for kids to discern which one is the right to use. But, if you teach them the similarities and differences of every character, they will be able to learn it all faster and prevent from making the same mistakes in their exams.
A great way of teaching them this skill is by showing them where each character differs. For instance, there are characters with different or extra parts in them like 广 and 厂, wherein the main variation is just the presence of the ‘dian’ on top while for the characters 大, 太 and 犬, the differences are based on the location of the ‘dian’.
You can also use visual aids and online dictionaries to help your kids point out the characters’ differences and similarities. It is also important to read the characters out loud to your children so they can recognise and learn that these characters are pronounced differently.
Never Comparing their Work and Letting them Take their Time
Finally, you shouldn’t compare the work of your children to other people’s handwriting. Writing Chinese characters is difficult to learn and requires constant practice to get the right form. You must also remember that every child learns differently and this influences how fast they learn skills such as writing.
As your child practises, don’t rush them to move on from one character to another. Let them take their time in understanding how each stroke is done and how to get the form. They will automatically move to the next characters when they feel confident with their skills and see that their work is good enough.
Just check with them occasionally to see their progress and teach them where to improve. If they need some improvements, show how it is done correctly and don’t scold them for getting it wrong. Remember, your child may become sensitive when you criticise their work and this can affect their handwriting practice. If their self-confidence is lowered and affected, their handwriting performance will consequently become poorer.
Learning and writing Chinese characters can be one of the most difficult tasks for your child to do. But as a parent, you can make your children’s learning experience more fun and exciting as they see the benefits of improving their Chinese Language skills. If your child need further guidance, we have the right Chinese tutor for you. With these tips, you can change the way your children look into Chinese handwriting and let them improve at the pace that is right for them.
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