Homeschool Resources-Teaching Chinese (characters/ radicals) to 4 yr old

I want to teach my 4 yr old Chinese characters without the using the old method of writing pages and pages (&pages) of the same character.

Mom does not have the privilege of knowing how to read Chinese herself and so mom will also have to learn at the same time. Which mom has the time to write repeatedly to learn the characters?

What I need is some idea on how to go about teaching and learning the written chinese language. (If it includes the spoken language too then it is also welcomed).

Any kind of resource will be wonderful, but of course free would be best.

Thank you in advance for your advice.


What a great question! I enjoyed researching this out for you - I think you have inspired me to try this with my children too.

I read once about learning to write that you should 'aim for one perfect letter' instead of writing many imperfect ones - so perhaps concentrating on writing one character beautifully will be better than pages and pages of the same character.

I think showing your child as many characters as possible will also help memory - try putting a card with the chinese character for 'window' next to the window and so on.

I learnt from this site that you can have 42% understanding of Chinese by learning only 100 characters. He has a list on the site of the most common Chinese characters in order of frequency, so I think this would be a great place to start. It will be more efficient to learn the most used symbols first.

There are several places where you can watch the symbols being drawn as animations.

  • Chinese character software- trial version free.

  • Animated symols (free).

  • For homeschool resources, I suggest you take a look at the following sites.

  • Podcharacters- This has some wonderful lessons for starting to recognise the characters.

  • Chinese lesson plans.

  • Free Mandarin flashcards.

  • Learn Chinese online - sign up for daily lessons.

  • Lots of online resources - scroll down the page to find them.

  • More online resources.

  • We like to play a jumping game when we are learning a language. Draw out some large versions of Chinese symbols onto paper and lay them around the floor. Then shout out a word, and get your child to jump on the matching character - this will help you too because you will have to check they are correct!

    You may also be interested in this paper that recommends teaching Chinese writing to beginners via computer software and not by using a pen and paper. I think this may work well for your 4year old (I am not sure my children were very dextrous at 4).

    I found some software for writing Chinese :
  • Internet based software

  • Several types of software for download

  • I hope these homeschool resources gets you started. Good luck.
    Best wishes Julie.

    Comments for Homeschool Resources-Teaching Chinese (characters/ radicals) to 4 yr old

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    Aug 07, 2014
    4 year olds love painting
    by: Tatiana

    I know this is an old post, but I have something to add.

    I also had this question for teaching my 4 year old (who is now 5), because she showed so much self interest in learning to write the characters. She happens to really enjoy copying the characters after I write them, or tracing them using tracing paper or a lightbox (but tracing doesn't teach stroke order, which can be important if you're really serious about learning to write by hand). But she doesn't want to copy them over and over.

    I realized for her that the characters felt more like drawing some kind of code than writing. So I decided to try starting with calligraphy. We got out our paintbrushes (we don't have special calligraphy brushes yet, but a calligraphy set is very cheap on amazon) and copied characters from a calligraphy book from the library. The only repetition I had her do was copying each basic stroke a few times (and even that felt a little like pulling teeth). Although this was not helping her learn how to speak, I think this method worked to keep up her interest. It is more important to me that she learn how to speak and recognize some of the most important characters, so the writing is just a bonus for me since she's interested.

    I agree that labeling things around the house is a great idea too, we did some of that. And to add to the calligraphy idea, we would just paint a picture of the meaning of a character. Stick with just one or two characters at a time with a such a young child.

    Oct 25, 2010
    More Resources
    by: Homeschoolling-ideas

    We have used this idea as part of the Smorgasbord Free Homeschool Curriculum. Some language learning in a week!

    If you are using this language lesson plan, then as well as the resources above (we especially enjoyed the podcasts), we also used the following:

    This Animation about chinese writing - a great introduction.
    Make a Chinese Scroll - to practice our writing on!

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