This post was sponsored by Sagebooks. All opinions are mine and mine alone.
Friends, next week is my last post for Sagebooks because we are done! Glow Worm (6) is my third child to go through the curriculum and I wish it were easier the third time around, but it wasn’t. The main thing going for me was that I knew we would eventually finish and it would feel awesome.
Though no one asked, I thought I would share some of the lessons (both old and new) that I learned this third cycle through. Also, in case you missed it when I first wrote the piece, The Key to Success with Sagebooks, I highly recommend you read it along with this one. They go together like peas and carrots.
Anyhow, without further ado, here are some of the lessons I learned from Sagebooks.
1) If You Keep Going, You Will Eventually Finish.
Yes, yes. Captain Obvious here Captain Obviousing. But honestly, when you first start the series, it seems as if a year and half is really, really far away. And when you hit the eventual slumps (I’m looking at you, mid-life crisis!), it’s hard to remember (and even accept) that the only way out is through.
I learned this lesson each time because I’m a slow study when it comes to hard work and consistency.
Don’t be me. Be smart and learn from other people’s experiences – however pathetic.
2) Every kid is different
I read about this all the time and quite frankly, it’s annoying. Duh, every kid is different. But when you’re going through Sagebooks (or anything that requires time as a major investment), it’s hard not to compare your current kid with your previous kids.
It was incredibly frustrating at the beginning because all I remembered was zipping through at least the first three or four sets with Cookie Monster (9.5). But I forgot that he, along with Gamera (7.5) already had 800+ characters under their belts when we started Sagebooks.
Of course it was faster with Cookie Monster and Gamera. It wasn’t so much learning new characters as it was reviewing older characters. But with Glow Worm, we started pretty close to ground zero – or at least, it felt like ground zero. He did know a few hundred characters, but not anywhere near the 800+ of his older siblings.
I also didn’t count on the fact that since we started at a younger age, he was so much squirmier and that drove me CRAZY. Plus, Cookie Monster has close to a photographic memory. Glow Worm has no such burden.
3) The more consistently you do the lessons, the more characters your child will retain.
Am I really telling you anything you don’t know just via common sense alone? AND YET I FORGET MULTIPLE TIMES A YEAR.
Mostly, because who actually wants to commit to doing these lessons daily? But there really is a lot less “summer slump” if you do the lessons daily. (And if there is less memory loss, there is definitely less yelling.) I realize that it’s not always feasible, but the closer you can achieve daily reading and review, the more characters your child will retain.
The curriculum already does the bulk of your work for you with the way the lessons build upon each other. But it’s not going to do its magic if you don’t do the chapters in a timely fashion.
4) You don’t have to do anything fancy to reinforce the characters.
You CAN, of course. No one is stopping you. Especially since I have written scores of posts on how to teach your kids Chinese with fun activities and games. Plus, Sagebooks has a few card games using their Treasure Box characters or their study cards for their entire series.
But you don’t have to. I only did it with Glow Worm and the older kids because it was literally my job to do so. I certainly did no such thing with my older two kids and they learned the 500 most common used Chinese characters in children’s literature just fine.
You’re signing up to do the curriculum. Not a whole bunch of extraneous things that could help but also can be incredibly intimidating. If the curriculum can’t help your kid learn to read on its own merit, it’s not a good curriculum.
5) The Treasure Box Sets are worth it.
I have mentioned it before in my previous piece on what to do after Sagebooks, but it’s worth re-stating. The supplemental materials – but especially the Treasure Boxes – are worth every penny. These books introduce a few new characters each book, but more importantly, they use only the characters your child learned in the Basic 500 Chinese Series.
These books reinforce the characters your child is learning as well as builds up their confidence as they display competence. Plus, it’s refreshing to see different art and writing styles in these books. They’re a good mix of fun/silly and history/classic tales. They do get really hard by Set 4, but let’s be real. Books are not always going to stay at a simple level just because that’s what we think our kids can handle.
I recommend going through the corresponding Treasure Box sets immediately after finishing a particular set. Your child will see these characters in a different, non-repetitive setting and realize subconsciously that these words are a gateway to new stories.
6) Give yourself grace.
A lot of grace.
Because life will happen. School will get busy. Your child will not want to cooperate. Work may get in the way. Life is not a straight trajectory to the end goal. There will be zigs and zags and sometimes, entire loops and U-turns. But eventually, you will get there.
And if you can’t finish, it’s okay. There are many roads to Chinese l literacy – of which Sagebooks is only one. It’s the one I’ve chosen and find best for my family and lifestyle, but people were learning to read Chinese before Sagebooks appeared, and they will after as well.
Also, also. It’s also okay to decide that any curriculum or effort on your part is unwanted. There is no judgment. Life is full of wonderful and worthy subjects to learn. Be gentle on yourself and your children. This life is hard enough.
Alright. Thanks for feeding into my rampant narcissism by reading! I appreciate you. Tune in next week for my final Sagebooks post!!