For parents trying to survive in destitute countries, all they pray for is for their young to grow strong enough to survive the harsh daily realities of life: drought, diseases and starvation. Because life is as unpredictable as rain fall, and everyday they wonder how much time their little kids have to continue on with life on this earth. And if they do survive their early childhood, there is host of other daily dangers that they have to face. Life is tough for these kids but they have little complain. Maybe it’s because they have little other than their precious little life.
Now please look at parents in more developed countries. They want their children to grow in many ways:
They want them to grow up fast (sometimes too fast) by exposing them to high levels of stress: learning to read and write by 2; learning to count and do math by 3; spelling at 4, taking preschool entry-exams by 5, and bringing home the A’s by 6. Who needs to go to Standard 1 at this rate?
So much emphasis is placed on the academics, that parents forget the more important part of education. It’s called HEALTH EDUCATION. Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, it is something deeper than just getting growing kids expensive milk formulas (which actually, may be the cause of many of the issues that kids today face, such as hyperactivity, which is also aggravated by fancy-colored drinks steeped in high sugar content, and a whole gamut of allergies from skin allergies to respiratory problems; or feeding them with fast foods (read high fat and high cholestrole!) and going heavy on meat (laced with growth hormones and you don’t even want to think about what they feed the animals with!).
So yes, it is very important that we eat right and teach our children to eat the right kinds of foods to grow HEALTHILY. Too much emphasis is being put on brain-development and not enough on the other parts of the body! Healthy body, healthy mind. Being brainy is useless if the body is not functioning properly. And medical expenses these days can surpass education expenses if we do not make it a point or make the effort to stay healthy. The number of kids having Type 2 diabetes is on the rise. So are the cases of liver and kidney failures. These are grim facts to ponder on.
To grow healthily, kids also need to exercise. Yes, it means walking more rather than sitting down. How many hours of walking do kids do in a week? Let’s see. They get up in the morning, they walk to their their attached bathrooms. They change and they walk down the steps (less than 30 steps I’m sure) to the dining hall to grab their breakfast. They walk to their cars parked in the porch and sit all the way to school. They then walk to their classrooms (another 30 steps or less) and sit there for most of the entire day. At the end of the day, they are too tired from all the mental work at school. So they choose not to go to the park to run or play but to stay home and play computer games or watch TV. The only place they may enjoy walking is at shopping malls, judging from the big crowds on weekends! So yes, our kids definitely need to walk more. Or run. Or swim. Or dance. Or climb. Just get their bodies moving! Watched the movie “Wall-E?” The humans have big round bodies with such tiny legs due to generations of sedentary lifestyle that they no longer make use of their legs to walk but are moved around by remote-controlled machines. Do not laugh! This may well be the reality very soon.
A family that we know made the decision to move the entire family from KL to a little town called P.D. At first we were perplexed by their decision. What modern facilities can they expect to get in a tiny town like that? But we spent a weekend with them and found the answer. The kids had SPACE to play – the whole entire beach to themselves and lots of forests to explore! The proud parents declared: “Kids growing up need space to play and to create and to think. In the city, they are deprived of space and time to just wonder and play.”
How true this is. Perhaps we should all move to the smaller towns so that our kids get to grow better!