We live in a small university town in southern part of USA. During the past three years, we have been teaching our two daughters (now aged 11 and 13) Chinese at home. We are using textbooks from China, and every morning before going to school, they need to read a lesson three times. On Saturday, they spend about one hour to write down new words (five times each), and then we give them dictation. After dictation, we ask them to write down any similar words they (and we) can think of, to reinforce their memories. The whole process takes 2-3 hours.
On Sunday, they need to revise the new words again for a few minutes and take another dictation. Afterwards, they have to write an essay (one week in Chinese, another in English). If they say they do not know what to write, we ask them to summarize a book they read during the week. We then check their essays and ask them to copy it into a dairy book. When all is done, they get paid $2 for their work each week.
Since we have kept the routines for three years, they now know what to do and expect exactly, and they do not need us to remind them every day. The end results are very pleasing. Now, they not only write Chinese stories well, but also feel very comfortable writing stuff in English. We plan to keep them doing these until they attend university.
Realistically, there is no easy way to learn Chinese, either at home or school. Our daughters attended a weekend Chinese school in Australia for 2-3 years before coming to the USA. I have to be fair that they did learn something in school. Because that particular school did not stress dictation, they could recognize some words when shown, but could not write them when required.
Our elder daughter is kind of home-bound, and the younger one tends to follow. So I sometimes try to go play with them a bit. In addition, we take our summer and winter holidays seriously, to compensate their apparent inactivity. Our plan is to spend 10-14 days in each holiday in some places where we have not been. During the past three years in USA, we visited Washington DC, New York, Niagra Falls, Orlando, New Orleans, Panama City, Mobile, Memphis, Houston, Brownsville, Matamoros, and recently to Little Rock to visit Clinton Library.