This is the 3rd step in the series about How to Write a Year-Long Bilingual Homeschool Plan.

So far, we have set long-term and short-term goals, and developed a year-long calendar for the coming school year with weekly/monthly themes and important days.

Now, we are ready to decide our approach to teaching both Chinese and English and make a detailed planning schedule. Are you excited?

To get better result of this planning section, Click HERE to grab the FREE workbook now and follow the steps along with this series.

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

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My Experience Using Different Bilingual Teaching Approaches

In my 1st year of homeschooling, my oldest kid was 4 years old. I used Letters of the week to teach English only. I didn’t want to try too many new things since that was my first time.  

Then in my 2nd year, since my oldest kid knew all the ABC, I decided to use a Theme-based plan for both English and Chinese with both my 3-year-old and 5-year-old (at that time).

I enjoyed both years very much. I think they both were successful years and my kids loved having school at home, learning different subjects with different themes, and their academic skills improved.

Using different teaching approaches and switching back and forth to test the water is normal and necessary. If you have the best curriculum without the right kind of teaching approach for your child, your child can’t absorb the information in an enjoyable way.

Now, I’m going to show you all my steps in deciding on what approach to use to teach both Chinese and English.

Different Teaching Approaches to Homeschooling

It’s easier to try and follow an approach of homeschooling in the beginning.

They provide a unique structure to allow for different kid’s and families’ needs.

Click HERE to learn the most popular homeschooling styles.

For me, I tried and used a mixture of homeschooling styles and methods. As my kids and I grew, we modified our learning methods consistently and made changes to our styles and approaches.

I enjoy using the Relaxed/Eclectic Homeschooling style which uses different methods to fit our family needs. I don’t have to be too strict and stress out on not following one style perfectly.

Since both English and Chinese are included in my homeschooling, I use the Montessori Method to teach math skills, the Classical Methods when it comes to English reading, and the Unschooling style when we need the freedom to learn outside.

How about you? Which style would you prefer? Let me know in the comment below.

Approach to Teach ENGLISH for Young Kids

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

These are the very popular approaches to homeschooling in English. You can easily google them and find all sorts of amazing free or paid resources.

They are all great and effective approaches. It makes sense to start from the Letter of the Weeks approach for the preschoolers. Once they learned the alphabets, you can choose from theme-based/unit-based, literature-based, and other approaches that suit your child and your family.

Classical education is a good fit for the elementary level children to try as well.

I’m no expert of any of these approaches yet, and I have only tried letter of the weeks, theme-based, and a little project-based with my children only. So if you would like to know more about each approach, click on those links below.

Letter of the Weeks:

Alphabet (The Measured Mom)

Letter of the Weeks Preschool Curriculum (Brightly Beaming Resources)

Letter of the Weeks (One Beautiful Home)

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Letter of the Weeks (Rockabye Butterfly)

Theme/Unit-Based:

The Unit Study Approach (Home Hearts)

Unit Studies – the Future of Learning (Amanda Bennett)

Themes (The Measured Mom)

Seasonal Printables (3 Dinosaurs)

Literature-Based:

Literature-Based Homeschooling Resources (Teach Beside Me)

Montessori-inspired Literature-Based Activities for Preschoolers (Living Montessori Now)

Kindergarten Literature-Based Unit Studies (1+1+1=1)

Project-based:

Intro to Project-based homeschooling (Mama of Letters)

Project Based Learning: Start Here (Cult of Pedagogy)

How To Plan Project-Based Learning (Performing in Education)

Project Based Learning In Kindergarten (KTeacherTiff)

Unschooling:

A Thomas Jefferson Education

Unschooling Blogs and Websites (John Holt Gws)

The Master List of Unschooling Resources (Weed’em and Reap)

Classical education:

Classically Homeschooling

5 Days of The Classical Preschool (Living and Learning at Home)

Classical Homeschooling (The Home School Mom)

Using A Classical Homeschool Education with Multiple Ages (The Kennedy Adventures)

What is Classical Education? (Wildflower Ramblings)

Approach to Teach CHINESE For Young Kids

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

There are not many blogs or websites that provide information on approaches to homeschooling kids in Chinese.

Trust me, I have been searching for years. You can usually only find different Chinese teachers or parents sharing their lessons of the day.

Therefore, I would like to briefly share some ideas of how the following approaches can work for teaching kids Chinese at home.

If you know any different approaches to teach kids Chinese at home, feel free to share with us in the comments below. We would love to learn from you too.

Theme/Unit-Based:

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

In the local kindergartens in Hong Kong, using Theme-based is the most popular approach. Teachers plan for different themes throughout the years. Then, they teach Chinese language, songs, math, science, art, etc. along with the themes. 

I have tried the same things with both Chinese and English in the past years along with some Chinese theme-packs.

It works really well on my kids. They love learning and working on different things within one theme at a time. It is so much easier to help my little one understand different seasons, festivals, and holidays throughout the years. They are also able to learn things from different cultures aw well, from facts to different creatures in the world.

Here are some more benefits using Theme-based approach:

  • Learn different subjects and skills together
  • Motivate kids with their interested topic
  • Make it realistic for kids
  • Utilize different learning style for different learners
  • Easy to pick and choose themes for your own kids

How it works:

  • Pick a theme for each one, two, or four-week plan (I have about 12 themes for the whole year.)
  • Plan and prepare Chinese books, songs, activities, art projects, Chinese theme-packs, Chinese printable, and maybe field trips for each theme. (Click HERE to access FREE Chinese vocab books and mini-books of different themes)
  • A child is going to learn different basic skills (reading, writing, math skill, language skills, motor skills, social skills, etc.) through each theme’s activities.

Literature-Based:

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

Using good Chinese literature in homeschooling is an excellent way to teach. By using good literature, the child is given the need for real-purpose reading, especially for those who have very limited Chinese language support.

We all know and understand how beneficial reading and learning from good literature is, this is how we gain knowledge. When we pair some interesting Chinese books for our child along with fun activities to enhance other skills, it makes learning fun and meaningful.

I have tried this for a couple of weeks usually after I created my own Chinese Literature-based Unit Studies. It works really well with reading their favorite stories and learning about their favorite characters. Then, they are very excited to work on some printable and other activities. I think they are more willing to learn with the book and story they love and are familiar with.

This is a really great approach for both younger and older kids.

Click HERE to take a look at all the Chinese Literature-based Unit Studies printable.

How it works:

  • Pick a Chinese book for each one, two, or four-week plan
  • Plan and prepare activities and resources that can relate with each book.  (Click HERE to grab the FREE Chinese Literature-based Unit Studies)
  • Pick some basic skills that you would like to teach from each book. For example: introduce some new Chinese characters, learn how to count, be kind to others, etc.)
  • Include different activities that are related to that book: puppet show, arts, and crafts, music and movement, physical activities, etc. Click to learn from this awesome mom and her literature-based activities.

Characters of the Week:

decide on a bilingual teaching approach

Learning Chinese characters is one of every Chinese homeschoolers’ ultimate goals.

Teaching Chinese characters is as important as teaching alphabets. Without knowing enough Chinese characters, we can’t read or comprehend any Chinese writing and literature.

This approach is inspired by the letters of the week. I would like to make learning Chinese characters more fun and purposeful for my kids.

I’m going to try this approach in this coming school year and see how it will go.

How it works:

  • Pick a few or a group of common Chinese characters for each one, two, or four-week. You can choose whatever that fits you and your kids. (e.g. most frequent characters, radicals, or taken from your Chinese books, etc.)
  • Plan and prepare activities, arts and crafts, songs, videos, books, anything that you can find to make each character memorable.
  • Don’t forget to review the old Chinese characters as you keep learning more.

If you have other suggestions of Chinese teaching approaches, please let me know in the comment below.

Is it Possible to Mix Different Teaching Approaches for Both Chinese and English?

This was a concern for me at the beginning of homeschooling as I was overwhelmed with the idea of teaching both languages at once.

How am I going to do it? Will they able to switch back and forth from Chinese to English? Should I separate each of them completely or mix both languages together?

In my new homeschooling years, I used the letters of the weeks to teach English to my 4-year-old and only read Chinese books and translated them into Cantonese for him. It is because I didn’t have a lot of resources and materials at that time I was the ONLY Chinese resources for my children.

Then, I used Theme-based approach for both Chinese and English after that. I first introduced the theme and had all sorts of activities, art projects, songs, and stories in English first. So it was easier for my kids (yes, by then I homeschooled two of my kids, ages 3 and 5) to understand each new theme and concept.

After they had been through all the teaching and activities in English, it was easier to teach them almost the same things in Cantonese. I believe when kids are learning in a stress-free and happy environment, they are actually learning.

However, in some months, I chose different themes for English and Chinese, because there might have been different festivals or events in the same month for both cultures, and as they grew, so did my confidence in their understanding of Chinese. It worked pretty well except I should have given them a couple of more days to digest the new concept without the help from their native language.

Kids are smart and very flexible and it is pretty common to learn more than one language in school, e.g. in Asia, Europe, or even Chinese-immersion in the U.S.

In the first few months, taking it slow and keeping it fun is always the key to having long-term success. Once the child knows the routine, everything will go much smoother and everyone will enjoy learning both Chinese and English at home.

Tips for choosing your teaching approach:

  • It is easier for kids to switch the language between Chinese and English when there is a set time frame for each section.
  • You can easily use the same teaching materials and content in both languages. But for Chinese, you might need to make your resources on your own because there isn’t much support online.
  • Having fun is the most important KEY to success and it grows your child’s interest in learning both languages.
  • Never compare your’s or your kid’s accomplishments with other kids’ and moms’ accomplishments. Every family is different.

So have you decided which teaching approach you are going to use? I would love to hear from you in the comment below.

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