Monday, January 21, 2008

The gift to be a Father

The struggle of modern day fatherhood is so real. No matter how many great ideas I have to be a better father, the exhaustion of work itself simply drives home the need to just chill out upon stepping into the comforts of my lovely home.

Yet, the desire to spend quality time on the other hand is so real too.

Last night, I am glad I took Joshua down for a walk. Even if it was just a 5 min playing at the void deck, I felt it was time well spent.

Make believe game of spider man climbing up the wall, garang guni selling Joshua away, or having him on my tired back, ... sweet moments that I cherish.

Thank you Father for giving me the responsibilty to be a dad,,, its a challenge I need thy grace to help me live the moment

"Serious side of playing around - Experts lament young are being denied interaction" by Liz Gooch, South China Morning Post [Hong Kong 12/1]

They jumped, ran, slid, fought, squealed and screamed. In short, they played.

It was the classic scene of children doing what they've always loved to do when almost 1,000 of them descended on a sports field at Polytechnic University on Wednesday.

Child's play it may have been, but what these children were doing represented a crucial part of their development.

Experts have long recognised the importance of play in children's social, psychological and physical development. But in today's fast-paced world, concerns have emerged that children are missing out on childhood's greatest asset.

Researchers and practitioners at this week's 17th International Play Association World Conference at PolyU laid the blame on a number of factors - from the lack of open space in urban areas to the parental concern that keeps children tucked up inside, cocooned in a world where television and computers have become surrogate playmates.

The realisation that not all was well with today's children came to writer, broadcaster and consultant Sue Palmer as she encountered countless teachers who were concerned by disturbing changes in students' behaviour.

They told the former primary school teacher that children were becoming more easily distracted and impulsive, less empathetic and did not get along with each other as well as previous generations.
Addressing the conference in a pre-recorded speech (illness prevented her from leaving her home in Scotland), Ms Palmer said there had been an "explosion" in the number of children suffering from learning difficulties in the past three decades.

Ms Palmer, whose research is published in her book Toxic Childhood, said behavioural problems had doubled in the past 30 years among British children while emotional problems had increased by 70 per cent.
The increase was particularly evident in those diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and autism spectrum disorders. In the early 1980s, one in 50,000 children in the United States had such disorders, compared to one in 144 now, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics. Ms Palmer said it had been estimated that one in 58 British children suffered from these types of disorders.
"We've had 50 years of peace and prosperity ... Things should be getting better for our children, not worse. I think it shameful and we should be looking at why it's happening," she said.

While some of the rise in behaviour disorders can be put down to increased diagnosis, Ms Palmer believes there is more to it than that. Thanks to technological developments, the pace of life has increased dramatically since the days when kids spent their childhoods exploring the local neighbourhood.
With tasks that used to be laborious now replaced by the flick of a switch, Ms Palmer believes we have become impatient and are trying to transfer this hectic pace onto our children.

"Unfortunately there are some things that can't be rushed and one of them is human development," she said. "We really can't accelerate psychological growth but at the moment we're trying to." "We are trying to rush children forward through the first years of their life and I believe that's why we're getting these developmental problems."

Ms Palmer said there was a disturbing trend in countries like Britain and the US for children to start school at a younger age. "It's very much worrying developmental psychologists because children simply aren't ready to start learning in a formal way until they're about six or seven," she said.

The pre-primary years should be dedicated to learning through play rather than formal education, according to Jaap E. Doek, who was chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2001 until last year. Although the right to play was enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Professor Doek said countries rarely reported on this aspect of children's rights.
He said it was important not to lose sight of the child's right to play when early childhood education was introduced.

"As soon as you call it education or school it becomes something that is linked to targets, things you want to achieve through activities at preschool," he said. "The pre-primary school shouldn't be school. It's really an instrument to strengthen certain elements of the psychological and also physical development of the child, to engage them with other children." Parents are often keen to see their children begin formal learning at a young age, but Professor Doek said the aim of pre-primary education should not be to put them in a competitive position for primary school.

While education often focused on the individual, the emphasis in the pre-primary years should be on learning to interact with others. "If you do pre-primary well, children have learnt to engage in play together, to discover things together, to get into a fight, to negotiate over things," he said. "All of those things don't happen in an education system where the focus is on the individual."

Professor Doek said Hong Kong and other places with competitive education systems could consider allocating specific time for children to play. But it was important children were given freedom when playing.
"If the activity is enforced, it's not play anymore," he said.

In addition to teaching children how to interact with others, share and learn language, playing active games outside has also kept generations of children healthy. With children free to run around the neighbourhood there was no need for such things as "fat camps" and diets designed specifically for youngsters - until today's generation, which Ms Palmer described as the least physically active generation in the "history of the planet". She said Scottish researchers had found that two-year-olds were now as sedentary as office workers.
"This is against nature and it means they're not learning through movement, which is the most basic way you play," she said.

Ms Palmer said there were various reasons for children's inactivity - children were becoming afraid to play outside, parents had become frightened of letting them out and there was now an abundance of screen-based entertainment available indoors. She said while there were no more child abductions now than in previous eras, a culture had developed where "parents are not good parents if they let their children go out to play".
A survey conducted last year by the Good Childhood Inquiry in England had shown that the average age people thought it was safe for children to play outside on their own was 14.

Ms Palmer said "screens", as she referred to televisions and computers, had invaded family life. She cited 2005 figures from the National Literacy Trust that show 40 per cent of British children under the age of four have a television in their bedroom. There were also television channels specifically for babies, despite recommendations from paediatricians that children should not watch television before the age of two. She said children's DVDs, such as the Baby Einstein series, had evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry but claims that these programmes were educational were "nonsense".

"Damaging babies' brains is now big business," she said. "If they tune into screens rather than real life and people then it becomes their default activity and it's much more difficult to convince them that they do want to play and get outside.

"I think if we try to push our children into a screen-saturated world before their brains have developed in the natural way that brains have been expected to develop for millennia, we may be doing them a disservice."
Ms Palmer stressed that technology was a great resource if used wisely but said society had not recognised what media saturation could do.
"Our technological evolution has been profound and rapid ... but we've got to give our children time to develop first," she said.


~xun~ said...

hey mr yeo forget to say something previously i still remember your john 3:16:D hehs that u once wrote in the post card

myx said...

hey mr yeo
how are u....j2 now...feeling e rush of things, stress la, cos we got new change of P. anyway, i think shes dynamic, cool in a sort of way too..

haha. time flies!

simin said...

yo.. mr yeo.. I'm simin here still rmb me?? yur sec 3t1 de science student... haha...

This is my blog link
Have time come and have a visit..