This post was sponsored by Sagebooks. All opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Alright, friends. I have finally righted the Sagebooks Ship and just in time! We’re starting a new stretch for fall and if you have been waiting on the sidelines for a good time to jump in with us, THAT TIME IS NOW.

Truthfully, there is no real start or end time to Sagebooks. You just start.

Glow Worm copying the illustrations.

But I understand that sometimes, it’s easier to join in at the beginning of something – that’s why I keep re-booting the series. (I guess this is also why they keep re-booting Spiderman but come on, enough is enough!)

Also, it’s less intimidating when long processes are broken down into bite-sized chunks. (That’s why Sagebooks is also designed the way it is – to give you the real impression of progress.)

Where Are We?

We started off Week 1 still struggling to review Set 2 Book 4 after Glow Worm (5) forgot it all when we took a *mumble* month-ish *mumble* off while I was busy having The Crisis of Mid-Life.

Did We Do It?

Now that the summer of sadness is over and all my foreshadowing has come to fruition, we can head into the new school year with some momentum because we finally finished reviewing Book 2.4. As a bonus, we ended Week 2 at 2.5:9!


Baby, I’m back!!

Ahem. I mean, good job, Glow Worm.

The illustration Glow Worm is copying. It’s his favorite thing to do.

What Happened?

Like I mentioned last week, after all my weak excuses and faffing about, I just decided that enough was enough and did it. The first week was super frustrating because, of course, Glow Worm naturally forgot the majority of characters in Book 2.4.

It’s unrealistic to expect any otherwise, but it was still aggravating. Not because Glow Worm is human and five years old. But because I knew it was all my fault and totally preventable on my part. Thankfully, the second week was much better (and the third and fourth weeks better still).

When confronted with such self-criticism, I either crumble and hate myself (which I did plenty of during my month of “voluntary” absence) or I suck it up and push through. The latter always seems harder to do, but once you start, it isn’t so bad. You just keep going and tell yourself, just five minutes. Or try just for today. And pretty soon, before you know it, it’s been a week. Then two. Then a month. Then two months. And then, you’re done.

What’s fun is seeing how Glow Worm’s mind works with the word associations. He can’t remember 面/mian4/side/ but says 後/hou4/behind/ because together, it makes 後面/hou4 mian4/the back side/ and calls 前/qian2/front/ 剪/jian3/cut/ because 剪 is just 前 (sound component) on top of a 刀/dao/knife/ (knife for cutting!).

This is why teaching components for characters is so helpful for learning to read Chinese. So even though Glow Worm is technically “wrong,” I’m not upset because I know his brain is making logical connections to the actual characters. It’s all part of the process.

Anything Else?

As with most difficult things (okay, let’s be real – most things in general), starting is the hardest part.

Just start.

Just go.

Just do it.

It’s okay if it sucks. (It’s expected to, at first.) It’s okay to backslide. It’s okay to take breaks and feel crappy about yourself because you stopped.

It’s all okay.

If you ever want to finish something, the only way out is through.

That has to be the most frustrating advice and mantra that I repeat to myself but you know what? It’s a cliché because it’s true.

The only way out is through.

That is how I am slowly getting through my mid-life crisis. That is how I’m getting through bilingual homeschooling. And that is how I’m getting through Sagebooks.

Before you know it, Glow Worm will be done and I will blink and it will be time for me to go through the sets for a fourth time with Sasquatch (~2).

Be gentle on yourselves, friends. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

There is no medal for finishing faster than everyone else. There is no prize money for most awesome Sagebooks journey.

There is no contest.

How quickly and excellently other people (and even your other children) learn the most commonly used 500 characters in children’s books has ZERO impact on your child’s progress or retention.

In the end, there are still another 1500-2500 characters to go before true Chinese literacy. All Sagebooks can do is help you with the first 500 (600 if you include their Treasure Boxes which you should totally get) in a systematic and entertaining way.

Is this too depressing a note on which to end? I don’t mean it to be.

I merely want to remind us of the Big Picture. The ultimate goal is to help our children become enthusiastic readers of Chinese (or if not enthusiastic, at least competent). The way is long and difficult even in Chinese dominant countries.

Give your kids and yourself the gifts of grace and time.