Go back to basics and let kids play

The need to get back to basics in educating our young has become more pressing, even as the Education Ministry re-aligns its co-curricular activity system to promote the holistic growth and development of students ("Overhaul to nurture all-round students"; Jan 10).

A child's natural affinity for physical activities has to be nurtured during the primary and secondary school years.

Besides building strength and improving stamina and endurance, play also nurtures character traits like determination and loyalty, as well as fosters teamwork and camaraderie.

As a teacher with 40 years' experience in handling children during their formative years, I discovered, to my dismay, that as the emphasis on academic excellence gained ground, the time and attention accorded to non-academic pursuits dwindled.

Schools are curtailing play time and even hijacking recess time by making the children queue up for lessons five minutes before recess ends.

Some parents even stop their children from going to the playground. Cooped up in flats, the children turn to sedentary activities for relaxation.

An entire generation is growing up hooked on electronic devices, overworking their fingers and straining their eyes while neglecting physical activities.

I remember residents living near my school calling and complaining about our students playing noisily at the void decks.

How else would children play, except with lots of shouts and yells of delight?

It is a sad indictment of how society has transformed as it scales the echelons of success.

Can we, as a nation, revert to the days of yore when going to school was an experience that children looked forward to?

Do adults dare to go against societal norms and make time and space for the young to play?

Ho Kong Loon

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.