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The Financial Express

Nurturing mental health of children


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One of the greatest challenges before parents of children these days is to nurture healthy growth of minds in healthy bodies of their young ones. The problem started with the breakdown of joint families, only more so where a couple lives in cities and towns detached and uprooted from their ancestral homes. In a family of the smallest unit where both are working parents, the challenge is stupendous. If one parent's income is insufficient to maintain family, the option for taking care of kid/kids is mostly less than ideal.

Babies and children forced to spend most of the day with hired maids are the worst sufferers. They may even pick up impolite languages their caretakers speak. Untrained and hailed usually from rural poor background, girls and women assuming the responsibility of children in their formative age hardly make good caregivers. In developed and rich countries the affluent class can afford trained governess and nurses to take care of children at least in a systematic manner. Although the system is no replacement for the filial emotional bond but at least the young souls are not neglected or mistreated.   

Against this background, the long general holiday or lockdown enforced by coronavirus should have become a blessing in disguise for children thirsting for their parents' company. The occasion offered both parents and children to put a premium on their attachment they so sorely missed before the closedown. However, there is a limit to quarantining and that too mostly not in so spacious rooms. Moreover, parents had to come out either to join their duties or looking for new employment. Those who lost jobs and could not manage fresh ones were compelled to leave their urban shelter for their village homes.

Children of families who could somehow stay back and those discovering themselves mostly in an unfamiliar surrounding will have completely different experiences. Those who had their parents with them for a couple of months are expected to go through a trauma because their regular life could not be maintained and left alone once again. It is the peers in classes and teachers whom they now miss. That they cannot move and play together makes them bored and sets to brooding.

Although the education system is far from caring enough to attend the psychological needs of the young learners, at least the gregarious nature of humankind somehow help them overcome its unwritten repressive regimentation. When young learners are subjected to four public examinations up to 12th class and run from one coaching centre to another before and after school doing several home-works with no time for play and enjoying life on their own, the robotic culture does more harm than good to the impressionable minds.

This pandemic gave an ample opportunity to review the entire education system. Had lessons at school been enough to educate the young generation with an emphasis on learning for enrichment of individuals' inner selves depending on their interests and aptitudes, this coercive system would not be there to turn education only as a vehicle for careers, no matter if those were to their disliking.

Alongside online classes, students could be involved with creative projects. Actually teachers themselves should be creative enough -- instead of just technicians who know how to help students obtain high scores in examination  --- possessing resourcefulness to unlock the door to a wide vista of knowledge. Under their guidance each learner would choose his/her favourite subject and excel in creativity.

If this was the case, some would have composed poems, short stories, fictions or dramas, others would have gone for mathematical solution beyond their text books, still others would think deeply on scientific problems in various branches including natural and life sciences or even toyed with innovation or contraptions. Then some would have proved their natural genius in performing arts such as painting, music and song, some others in sports and athletics.

All this calls for exceptionally resourceful teachers who can read young minds and thus creative projects assigned would have kept students busy during the pandemic with no trace of mental stress and disorder. The need is to have such a crop of teachers who must be amply rewarded for their contribution to the building of the nation. An integrated approach to physical and mental health of children in combination with education and culture is the order of the day.             

nilratanhalder2000@yahoo.com

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