Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #4.5: The stroke order of a Chinese character is very important, but I am not sure how much we should press my child to memorize it…

October 2, 2010

4.5 Main Article

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Situation #4.5: The stroke order of a Chinese character seems very important, but I am not sure how much we should press my child to memorize it.Reality: Stroke order is intended to maximize the ease of reading and writing, and to improve the overall look of the character (i.e. a box-like shape). Once one learns certain rules, he can mostly infer how most other characters are to be written (e.g. left before right, top before bottom). Of course there are some exceptions. But it should not cause much inconveniences in everyday writing. The stroke order becomes extremely important, however, in Chinese calligraphy, where the beauty of the character is revealed more distinctly from the brush stroke.

It is more difficult to revert to the correct way once a habit has been established. In light of priority, however, it is not quite as important, considering the little amount of time and the opposing forces about your child in learning Chinese in an English-dominant society. It is very beneficial, however, to enforce the basic rules in the beginning of character writing. The child will in turn figure out the rest, and if not, ask you about it. The worst to do is to impose stroke order when the child is in a position of reluctance and frustration in learning Chinese. As long as he is interested, you can teach him this interesting phenomenon.

Considerations:

  • How much emphasis and priority am I or is the school placing on stroke order for my child?
  • How does my child regard stroke order in his writing? Is he interested or frustrated, especially in early writing?
  • What are some of the basic rules of stroke order that I can teach my child? What are the simple stroke components?
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January 26, 2017

Writing Chinese New Year Banners: Does Stroke Order Matter?

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Writing calligraphy banners in Chinese New Year has always been a popular tradition, even for young children. The mistakes of any stroke order and the strength (how hard the press and the release) of each stroke can, however, become more apparent when writing through this medium. How important is it to pressure this “order” into the teaching?

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As a child learns to tackle each Chinese character, there seems to be more than enough elements to remember. One needs to balance the time invested across the actual learning of the character versus this specific skill. And writing from the heart is always more important and meaningful than any skills acquired, because this part is what stays from a childhood into adulthood.

 

Chinese characters are not just a medium for communication. It is a pictorial art, a storytelling, and a way to express innerness. The way of holding the brush, the flow of how a character is written, the way a stroke starts and ends, the balance of sizes for each component against the available space, the control of pressure of each touch – ALL completes the character.

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A child is most certain to complain if you tell them all the necessary elements at once. You can start small. Modeling for him (or showing a video) on how it is done can be helpful. Write simple strokes first (i.e. vertical, horizontal, dot, hook, slants). Build from there. Then work on balancing sizes. Lots of practice is key. Do not forget this is more art than the actual learning of a character, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the imprint of the form of the character will stay.

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Golden rooster brings joyful news of early spring. The duo of rooster and horse shall never part. (My children are of the year of rooster and horse. The left verse is taken from online. They made up the second part to go with it.)

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