How Many Chinese Characters does my child need to learn by grade?

As a stretch goal, I often like to refer to the learning schedule that local children in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China aim for in their curriculum. Of course, we don’t want to just cram characters at our children just to hit our own parenting KPIs but it’s still good to have an idea of what we are shooting for!

People photo created by tirachardz –

Here is a detailed article from Guavarama on how many chinese characters by grade. The key numbers I like to keep in mind for reading is 500 by end of Grade 1 and 3000 by end of Grade 6. So that’s basically around 500 per year. 10 chinese characters per week. Wow.

According to a post on Baidu Zhidao, the 2012 National Curriculum Standard on the Mainland provides this guidance:

  • Grades 1-2: read 1400-1600, write 800-1000
  • Grades 3-4: read 2500, write 1800
  • Grades 5-6: read 3000, write 2500

Here is a good resource for the list of 2460 characters that primary schools in China uses as the Grade 1-6 生字表

Always a little bit daunting to look up and see this huge mountain. Better get cracking! For additional motivation, read this article on the virtuous cycle of learning and why keeping up with this character count by age is so important.

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