PharmGirl’s sharing – Each child is different



This week, we are starting a new feature for our Learning Journal called the Parent Spotlight. Every two weeks, we will feature a different family who either is currently using Sagebooks or has already finished Sagebooks with at least one of their children.

We know that there are as many ways to go through Sagebooks as there are families and that though we have a recommended method of reviewing the previous four lessons and then teaching a new one, that doesn’t always happen! Many parents often feel very intimidated at first and don’t know how to start or what to expect as they go through the daily lessons.

It is our hope that through this bi-weekly feature, you can get a fuller picture of how different families approach Sagebooks.

Our first Parent Spotlight is PharmGirl and her experience teaching Basic Chinese 500 to her two older children.


PharmGirl is a homeschooling mother of three and works part time a few days a month. Her husband works full time, understands some Cantonese but doesn’t speak, and communicates with the children in English. PharmGirl is a 2nd generation Taiwanese American who can understand and speak Mandarin fluently. She is semi-literate in Traditional characters and can read zhuyin and pinyin.


- 6-year-old daughter (started: 2.5 years old; finished: 4 years old)
- 4-year-old son (started: 3.5 years old, and then again at 4 years old; still in process)
- 1.5-year-old daughter (not applicable)


1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

It was highly recommended by other parents.

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks? 

First child (girl) was 2.5 years old when we began and completed the series in 13 months. Second child (boy) we started at 3.5 years old, got to the second book, took a break because he was resisting and struggling to commit characters to memory. Started again when he turned 4. Four months later, he has completed 200 characters.

3. What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities? 

With the first child, I followed Sage's recommended method of 5 lessons a day, progressing 1 new lesson per day reviewing 4 lessons. 1-5, 2-6, 3-7 etc. We reviewed with flashcards and slowed the pace when needed. She also liked tracing the characters, so I made her dry erase books.
With the second child, he is picking up characters more quickly, so I have not needed to use flashcards. He will only sit through 4 lessons, but I am often progressing 2-3 new lessons per day.

4. What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

I like the built in repetition and review. Kiddos love the illustrations. It really works!

There are some pinyin errors, but that didn't affect us as I don't use that in my lessons. I have the traditional set and there are some typos where the simplified form is mixed in. Daughter didn't like the Treasure Boxes 3 and 4, probably more due to her lack of stamina to go through the whole story at a young age. I didn't bother purchasing box 5 when it came out.

5. If you have more than one child, would you do it again? 

Yes! I plan to with all 3 of my children.

6. Any advice for parents who are just starting? 

Recognize that each child is different and it's OK to take a break from it. But persist.

Resist your inner tiger and don't compare your kid to other kids. Although my eldest started and completed at a very young age, we struggled with life after Sagebooks. We spent the year after Sagebooks doing another Chinese readers set. Even after that, at 4.5 years old, she lacked the stamina and comprehension for early readers.

So I started my second child a year later at 3.5, which for him, was too soon. At 4, we seem to have found his sensitive period for character acquisition. He doesn't struggle with the abstract characters like my eldest did.

Be consistent. Read daily. Even if it means YOU are doing the reading. My kids will do anything to delay bedtime. Guess when Chinese lessons were?


Thanks so much for your candid responses, PharmGirl!

Many of our featured families are part of our Facebook Group so if you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please


We’d love to hear from you.