Academic stress starts early, study reveals

Children are feeling the pressure even before primary school, parents admit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 6:00pm

Children are stressed out by academic pressure even before they start primary school, a survey of parents of kindergarten pupils has found.

Some 65 per cent of the 683 parents contacted by Wofoo Social Enterprises said their children, aged four or five, were feeling the strain of their leap from kindergarten to primary school, which they start later this year.

The need to attend different after-school classes and extracurricular activities in order to secure a place at an elite school meant children missed out on playtime. Some 70 per cent of parents allowed their children to play for two hours or less a day, including 30 per cent who allowed an hour or less of play.

One educator said the survey reflected a worrying trend of parents pushing their children too hard academically at an age when they should be enjoying themselves.

The study organiser will release more details from the survey today. It was commissioned ahead of the announcement of place allocations on Saturday, when parents will learn which schools their children are to attend.

Some 76 per cent of parents thought children nowadays had to put more effort into studying than they did in their youth, and that competition was keener than in their childhood.

About 17 per cent had thought about moving the family overseas or sending their children to international schools, or arranged to do so, because of the stresses of the education system.

"Some parents think teachers and principals at primary schools love children who are very knowledgeable," said Fung Pik-yee, principal of Aplichau Kaifong Primary School. "But sometimes it's just because some parents are too tensed up over their children's Primary One school places allocation. No primary schools want children to know everything because they come to school to study."

One tutor said in January that she was asked to practice conversation with children as young as 15 months to prepare them for interviews for kindergartens.