We didn't send Renzo for any enrichment lessons although we are fully aware that he might have struggles with his Chinese in school. Instead, we made sure to make Chinese revision as higher priority and incorporate it into Renzo's daily routine after school.
I know you might have heard this a thousand times from Chinese teachers or your other friends with kids who absolutely hate learning Chinese, that in order to learn Chinese well, you need to use the language at home! Well I am not saying that's not right, but how many have seen significant improvement just by switching the primary language from English to Chinese at home? Personally I think learning Chinese involves a lot more efforts than just that, and there are many other good tips that actually help to reinforce what they've learned in school.
Reading aloud is the foundation for literacy development. While the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many. I still remember when I was young, my dad always says he expects to hear 朗朗的读书声 from our room everyday when he's back from work. Kids get to hear their own voice when they read aloud, it helps to increase their attention span. Renzo is asked to read his textbook daily for at least 10 to 20 minutes. He always covers hanyupinyin with his hand because he's not supposed to rely on hanyupinyin to read since Primary 1 Term 3.
You might think their textbook is simple and getting them to read something out of the school syllabus is more useful. Well yes it definitely helps if they read a wide range of books. But when it comes to tests, most of the questions are actually based on their textbook, at least for lower primary.
Tip #2 掌握生字
At the back of their Chinese textbook, there's a list called 生字表, where they have all the 识读字 and 识写字 listed. You might find it simple but trust me, they need to master the list and you can't just rely on their weekly or bi-weekly 听写 in school, because most kids forget more than half of the words on their 听写 list, right after they've been tested. So make sure to go through the list and test your child on it regularly.
Tip #3 诗词背诵
Poetry recitation is literary work where ideas and feelings, accentuated with the use of distinctive style and rhythm is delivered through a public speaking activity with a focus on rhythm, alliteration some repetitions. Renzo doesn't have a strong foundation in Chinese, and we failed to expose him well in Chinese Poetry since young. So it is really tough work here, but for a start, I am getting him to copy Chinese Poetry only. It doesn't matter that he couldn't analyze or understand it, I just want him to slowly feel as if he's submerged himself in a hot spring, and experience the irrational joy or sadness in it.
Of course you can't really expect much result from poetry recitation as kids need a long period of time to accumulate such knowledge. But by the time they are in upper primary or secondary, they will benefit and composition will get easier for them.
Tip #4 勤做笔记
I've asked Renzo to note down all his mistakes from his past worksheets / test papers for all his subjects. But for Chinese, I am doing the job for now because I need to summarize the test questions and put things into different categories, which he's not sure about how to do it yet. I find it extremely important to understand the format of his test paper, so he could focus on the areas which he's not strong at.
And another example: 词语搭配. This is the section I go through with Renzo many times. Because in Chinese language, you can easily mix and match different words with similar meanings and that's where the confusion comes in. Renzo knows 认真写字 and 认真回答 are both acceptable, but he needs to choose 不敢回答 because he can only use one phrase once, and 认真 has already been used to pair with 写字in the sample given. He has to choose 不敢 to pair with 回答 as there isn't any other more appropriate phrase to pair with 回答. Okay I must say such questions aren't easy and they need to get exposed to a large pool of vocabulary in order to pair the words freely and comfortably.