Put it in an Email – Tracking Your Child’s Progress

If you’re like me, you’ve invested tons of time and money into teaching your child a second language. So, the question becomes, how will you document their progress?

After all you want to see that they are improving and mastering the language, right? When my son was a toddler, he would come home with fun crafts or coloring pages in Chinese. As any mom would do, I tried to save every little piece to help him practice the words and for me to keep an eye on what he was learning and mastering. After awhile, my house was overrun with papers – everywhere! Cavanaughs Homework

Now that he is in a Chinese immersion preschool, he gets “homework” (for the lack of a better word) and, luckily it’s just practicing words and phrases he has learned at school. The first time he came home with flashcards, I was shocked and amazed at how much he had learned in just a week. As the weeks flew by, I knew I had to find a way to track what he learned to be able to build on it with his Chinese tutor.

(Yes, my son also has a Chinese tutor, just to help him practice his tones and help him gain confidence with working through the extra practice his teacher sends home.)

I started taking videos and then my phone was overloaded with videos and I didn’t want to keep posting them on Facebook. So…here’s what I did and it is working great! I challenge you to do the same, here’s what you need to do…

  1. Create an email account for your child. It’s best if it is not your own personal email account or one you already use. This way the emails you send to this account will be neatly preserved, in order, without you having to sift through dozens of emails on other things.
  2. Every week take a few pictures and a video of your child practicing their target language. For me, the pictures I take are often of the newest set of flashcards or the few pages of Chinese character work my son has completed that week in school. Every Saturday morning, I take 30 minutes to attach the pictures and videos to an email and send it to the email account. I may also include some notes from his teacher if she mentioned anything that he has mastered or if there are any areas he needs to continue working on.
  3. Check the emails every quarter. With each new season, I go back through the emails in chronological order and see how my son has progressed over time. I also look for any common topics he hasn’t mastered yet. The best thing is the emails are timestamped and I can quickly go back and review what he has already covered in class.
  4. Share the email account with tutors. I always get the question, “what does your son know?” or “what does he need help with the most?” For a monolingual parent, I do struggle with conveying what my son needs help with. I don’t speak Chinese, so unless I check in with his school teacher, I don’t always have a clear picture of what he needs the most help with. But, now, I share the email account credentials with his tutor and she can go back through the emails, watch the videos of him reading Chinese and see the type of work he does at school. This way she has a much better understanding of his Chinese knowledge and she can better structure their lessons.

Cavanaughs Flashcards

This method has been working wonderfully for me and my son. It also is a big source of encouragement for me and him to go back and see just how far he has come.

As a monolingual mom, I know he is learning, but since I can’t practice Chinese with him at home, I’m never really sure how comfortable he is with speaking the language.

Being able to go back through what he has learned, even if in emails, helps remind me of the bigger picture and stay committed to this language journey.

What other ways are you using to track your child’s progress? I’d love to hear what is working for you and your family 😉

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