updated 22 Jan 2012, 16:27
user id password
Sat, Jan 09, 2010
Mind Your Body, The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
School's not a blast for all kids
by Gloria Chandy

Remember your first days at school? For most of us, they were a scary prospect.

How you reacted to being dragged from the cocoon of your own home to this strange place, filled with people of varying tempers and personalities, depended a lot on the sort of family life you had, I think.

My first days at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Victoria Street, were mildly upsetting. I had an older sister at the same school who could look out for me. But the distance between the kindergarten class and the specific point in the primary school where I was to meet her to go home seemed like a vast desert wasteland to me then.

I cried for three days in a row when school was over because I could not figure out the way from my class to our meeting point, 'the Round Table' (a school landmark in CHIJ history that only girls of the era can relate to).

By the fourth day, I had learnt the way. When I am at Chijmes now, the entertainment spot that was once my school, I am tickled when I realise how short a distance it was.

In my five-year-old mind, I must have feared abandonment, never seeing my parents again. I had a wonderful home and family life and was petrified that I might lose it all.

Once the initial hiccup subsided, I had, like many people, some of the best days of my life at school. But perhaps we were privileged.

For some of the girls, this wasn't the case. I had classmates who were orphans or from broken or underprivileged homes. The realisation that school wasn't such a blast for some hit me when I met one of them outside the school gate one morning. The girl was sobbing and wearing a dress.

She owned only one uniform, she told us. She had fallen and dirtied it on the way to school and so had to wear the dress. She felt too ashamed to come inside.

Decades later, poverty may not be one of the obstacles that kids starting school here have to face. Though bullying, exams and homework overload weren't unknown to us, school stress had yet to become a byword.

Perhaps we had yet to have the tools and means to help, but we do now.

Teachers and mental health experts say that transition stages of school and major examination years lead to stress. So every parent, teacher and school counsellor should make it their business to identify the kids who need help. And make sure they get it.

[email protected]

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.

more: school, happy, kids
readers' comments

Copyright © 2012 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.