What exactly do our children study in school these days? During my time, going to school, especially nursery school, was something we would always look forward to. If my memory isn’t failing me, 80 per cent of the time spent in nursery school those days was meant to play and discover ourselves - of course apart from the eating and sleeping that was mandatory with controlled studying.
The first time I heard of the word ‘homework’ was after I had joined primary school. Still, it never gave me the jitters I see our children having these days. If anything, it was all fun and manageable.
Today’s children are having a rough time in school. It’s no wonder that most of them have started practising truancy at an early age. I have a four-year-old cousin who ‘suffers’ from anything every morning as he prepares for school. From painful nails to tired knees - just so he can escape school. Nothing demoralizes a student more than a heavy workload with little time to relax. Try and concentrate on their walking styles as they walk to and from school and you will get my point.
Those carrying backpacks suffer the most. They cannot even run as the bags are so heavy that they end up walking with a backward slant as they fight with gravity to keep from falling. Instead of correcting the situation, we thought it wise to introduce bags with wheels to ‘ease’ their movements. Seriously, where is this world headed to if we are bringing up an already mentally exhausted generation?
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Before it escapes my mind, what would a three-year-old be doing in school five days a week from 8am to 4pm? Do not tell me they are studying. What in the Lord’s name is this that has to be studied that much at such a tender age? Are they trying to invent a pilot-less wooden plane that can carry 2000 people at a go? It’s high time we let these children enjoy childhood. There is really no need to overwhelm them with books and ambitions to a point they start going into depression. We have become ‘hands off’ parents and have left it all to the teachers and our children to sort themselves out.
The other day, I overheard a parent of a nursery school child complaining that her child’s school was closing early due to the forthcoming elections and she was not ready to see her daughter home for two months. She was actually asking the school management what it expected her to do with her daughter during that long holiday. Have we become too tired to bring our little ones up to an extent we fear spending time with them?
Or maybe we are so much engulfed in our own dreams and ambitions that our children have become of less importance to us. Children these days barely have time to relax. Like their parents, they have become early risers and late sleepers all in the name of school. Recently, the country has witnessed a rise in suicides by children and gross misconduct, I will not tie that to education but I will tie it to lack of connection between parents and children.
I remember during my schools days, our parents would rejoice whenever the former president Daniel Arap Moi surprised us with a one-week holiday extension. Try that with today’s parents and you will face their wrath. It’s really a bad time to be a child in Kenya during these hard times. Parents, family planning isn’t just about conception, it goes beyond that. Let’s plan well and save our children.