Po’s story – waiting until your child is ready pays off

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Po Tim King from Fortune Cookie Mom. She homeschools her four children in Hong Kong and is making good use of the sets! Po also creates lovely Chinese worksheets and activity sets and used her creations in conjunction with Sagebooks.

Family Background

My parents are both from Hong Kong so we are all native Cantonese speakers living in Hong Kong. My oldest daughter is 8 now, she read Sagebooks when she was 6.  My second daughter is 6 now, she is currently using Sagebooks. My third son is 4, I’m not going to officially start Sagebooks with him until he is ready, maybe 6 years old. And I have a 16-months old son, learning how to speak Cantonese and English.


8 year old daughter: started: 6; finished: 5 months
6 year old daughter: started: ~6; currently at Budding Reader (Level 2), 4 months in
4 year old son (N/A)
1 year old son (N/A)

 In her Own Words 

1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

I know there are different options of books like that, some of them are even cheaper. However, I chose Sagebooks because there are traditional Chinese that I need. I heard SO many good things about Sagebooks from everyone. I don’t remember – maybe it was Mandarin Mama. Someone took some photos and showed me the inside a little bit and I liked how simple and easy it was for my kids. Plus, when I was thinking about buying it, there was a discount so I bought it.

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

My oldest one when she was 6 years old she started reading from Beginning Reader Book 1 to the last book and she finished the whole thing about 5 months. I was in shock how much she loved it and how easy it was for her to learn it independently. Of course, in the first three sets, I sat her down and read with me almost everyday. After she got the first 300 characters, she started to understand the pattern and guessed most of the new characters herself. After that, she was addicted to read and learn all the characters. 

It was amazing to see once she got the basic characters, and she became in love with them. Now, she knows at least 1000 characters, she still would pick up Sagebooks Confident Reader (level 4)/ Fluent Reader (level 5) and read them for fun. One of the things she loves the most is how funny the content is. Also, she was motivated by the success that she had and it kept her going. I think that’s so important for kids to have.

My second child is working on it right now. I didn’t really push her to read since she is a more free will person. She didn’t like to be forced, but once she is interested in something, she will do it perfectly until it’s done. She was already learning indirectly from her older sister and throughout homeschooling. So whenever I pulled out a Sagebook and read with her, she learned very quickly. She is at the end of Budding Reader (level 2), it has been about 4 months. I’m planning on pushing her a little more in the summer, and hope she can finish more. I don’t want to require her to finish everything if she didn’t show interest. I would like her to take her time to love reading Chinese and learning Chinese with Sagebooks.

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

I typically will sit down with one of my children one-on-one and guide them to read one book. If there are any characters that they kept forgetting, I will write them down on a piece of paper or on our whiteboard, so they get to look at them for the rest of the week. My oldest daughter can easily read the whole book or even two or three books; she is a bookworm. 

However, my second daughter can usually only read half of a book then she is done. Haaa… it depends, sometimes I will encourage her to finish the whole book, sometimes not. 

I also try to ask my oldest daughter to be the “teacher” and read with her sister. It works really well because two of them were actually learning at the same time, and I didn’t need to do anything. I will try to do it more in the future. Even for my second daughter (now is 6 years old), I will ask her to read to her brother (age 4) to let her show off the characters that she knows. It works great as well.

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

I love the simplicity of Sagebooks. Each sentence builds on one another. And nothing too fancy or too hard that the child needs to take a lot of effort to learn tons of new characters in each sentence. Each book has 100 characters and they are small and light. It’s easy to bring it anywhere they want. 

The pictures, I don’t think it’s the prettiest one, but they do bring meaning, so that my kids can guess what the sentences’ meaning is on their own. It really helps them to build confidence in themselves and their ability to read in Chinese. I also LOVE LOVE the Treasure Box Set. They did a great job picking the topic and stories. I love those historical stories. They are awesome. 

I would love to have 501-1000+ characters!!! What’s next?? I don’t know. Some wording in Sagebooks is a little weird and very “Cantonese.” Haaaa…

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

Yes. I bought the whole set and expect all four of my children will read them all.

6. Any advice for parents who are just starting?

Don’t compare your child’s process with others. I think they can wait to learn this “textbook” like set until they are a little bit older, at least 6 years old. I tried to read with my younger kid. I prefer to see miracles like my oldest daughter finishing the whole thing in 5 months by herself. She really loves reading in Chinese now, not by force. I think one of the reasons is because I let her choose and I waited until she was able to read with English first and then Chinese. Because of this basic skill, she could learn it much easier and faster and she gained great experience learning Chinese by then. I think it’s a very important foundation if we want them to keep learning Chinese. 


Thank you so much for your responses, PoYour patience to wait until each child is ready and to adapt to their individual learning styles are excellent parenting skills. And your advice on not comparing children is indeed an invaluable reminder to all of us.


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