Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Raymond's letter to The Straits Times: No need to create Einsteins overnight

My letter to The Straits Times on the above matter is published today – Tuesday 10th February 2015.

Given the highly competitive and stressful environment we are in, I am not surprised that many of our schoolgoing children are having sleep problems (“Many parents ‘not alert to children’s lack of sleep’”; last Friday).

There is a real danger that sleep problems, if left unchecked, can escalate into insomnia at a later stage.  Both parents and the Education Ministry must be mindful of this.

But, with many parents having to work long hours to provide for themselves and their children amid rising cost, there is likely to be little or no supervision at home. Children at the primary levels, who are alone at home and bored, are also vulnerable to the dangers of technology that include gaming addiction.

While I understand that competition is keen, too much pressure should not be exerted on our young children.

If we want to create Einsteins overnight, there will be a heavy price to pay. Being No. 1 all the time is not the best way to go. As it is, there are many young children and youth who are grappling with mental health issues at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), and if this increases, it will eat up more resources in this hospital.

With stiff competition coming on-stream and the high standards of education, parents have little or no choice but to send their children for remedial classes and tuition. But at the end of the day, parents must also not be over anxious, as this will put undue pressure on the children.

To better manage stress-related and addiction issues, all schools should invite professionals from the IMH to give talks on these growing problems.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


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