The last week of July and first week of August Ania had daily lessons in Chinese calligraphy. Normally children don't start writing with calligraphy ink brush until they are a bit older, but Ania has been showing interest in writing for quite a while. She actually prefers writing letters and characters to drawing or painting. At the beginning of summer I remembered that when Zosia was small she used to take calligraphy lessons at a very traditional class. We called the teacher (who after 9 years still remembered Zosia) and it turned out that this summer there will be a calligraphy camp for beginners.
When children entered the class on the first day they all found on their seat a box with all the materials needed for the later classes:
They were also introduced to the history of Yazhai Children's Calligraphy Institute which was established by Qiu Yehong 丘埜鴻 in 1973. Right now the classes are run by Master Qiu's daughters Qiu Xuanzhi 丘琁芝 and Qiu Huizhi 丘慧芝. When Zosia was taking these classes there was also a third daughter Qiu Aizhi 丘愛芝.
The teachers are very nice, but at the same time very strict. Let me give you an example:
When kids arrive in front of the house they have to press the buzzer (once!) and when the person on the other end answers they need to say: "Good morning, teacher. My name is ... . Please open the door." (老師您好。我是 ... ，請開門。) There are many rules children need to follow in the class. Some may find it a bit strange, but I think that kids nowadays need that.
At the beginning of the class one of the children is asked to move the rain-stick to mark the start of the lesson.
At every class the children learn not only how to write Chinese characters (or rather parts of characters), but also many interesting things about Chinese writing and history and the "instruments" used for calligraphy (ink brush, ink, paper).
Parents were invited to watch children only during the first class. That's why the only photos I have are from that day when Ania was just experimenting with the brush and ink (didn't know how to hold it properly yet).
After finishing writing everyone has to remember to wash their brush well.
Before children start writing whole characters they have to learn how to write certain strokes and only after they master that can they continue to writing characters. Below are the "master" sheets for kids to copy. They first copy the strokes by putting them under the xuan paper and then by looking at them. They have to practice the same strokes many, many times. Ania did not complain at all, she even practiced writing at home.
The teachers check each and every character with red ink.
Beside practicing strokes and basic characters kids also wrote this small "pictures":
At the end of two week long camp Ania received a progress report:
She would like to continue going to calligraphy class, but unfortunately there are only two classes a week, one on Friday night and another on Saturday morning and both of them are full.
One of the presents Ania received for her birthday was a cute set for writing calligraphy:
Have your children ever learned calligraphy? Did they enjoy it?