Ruby’s story: each child has their unique learning experience

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Ruby Yu. It’s always fun to see the different experiences even within the same family. Ruby’s experience reminds us that our children are different people from one another and age plays a bigger factor than we may think.

Family Background

Ruby went to college in Taiwan and her husband was born and raised in America. They speak Chinese at home, have had some Chinese tutors over the years, and both her children attend a regular elementary school.


7 year old daughter (started: 5; finished: 6 months)
5 year old daughter (started: 4.5; finished: 18 months)

 In her Own Words 

1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

I chose Sagebooks after reading the Mandarin Mama and Guavarama blogs. They were very convincing. I was originally using random flashcards from Taiwan but they were mainly nouns and did not help much with reading.

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

I am cheap and refuse to pay for shipping, so I asked coworkers that travel to HK to buy them for me one set at a time. By the time I got the books, my oldest daughter was 5. My goal was to finish them before she started Kindergarten and English took over. It took her 6 months.

My youngest daughter was excited about “learning” since she’s watched her older sister learn Chinese for so long. I started her early when she turned 4. She was super slow and could only do one character a day, and that wasn’t even terribly consistent. By the time she turned 5, I realized that she wouldn’t be able to finish before Kindergarten if we don’t step it up. We are now on the last book and she has 8 characters to go. It would be the 1.5 year mark. It was painful. Maybe I should have started later.

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

We do 1~3 characters a day. Before we start, I show the flashcards of the characters we’ve already covered. I pull out the ones they don’t remember, and we read through those chapters first. Then we read the new material. We generally read through the text once. When there are characters they’re stuck on, I just move on. Might as well learn more that they can remember than spend extra time on ones that they can’t.

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

I loved Sagebooks though I hear it’s an acquired taste. My kids enjoyed the story line, they enjoyed the illustrations, they enjoyed counting the hairs on each of the characters. I liked the characters they’ve chosen. I did not like the supplementary material. The little booklets, forgot what they were called, and the idioms book were not very good imo. The stories were lame, but I don’t blame them. What exciting story can you tell in 100 characters anyway. But yeah. Lame. Wish I didn’t get them.

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

Dude. I am so done having children.

6. Any advice for parents who are just starting?

Not really. Just be consistent. Don’t stop. Don’t break. Just keep going.


Thank you so much for your responses, Ruby! Your humor and candor is greatly appreciated.

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