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Kids should get a better break for overall well-being

China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-29 07:44
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A primary school student gets a vision test in Handan, Hebei province, during the summer holiday in 2020. [Photo by Hao Qunying/For China Daily]

The Ministry of Education and three other ministries have jointly issued a notice about launching a national campaign on myopia prevention and control to safeguard children's eyesight.

A paragraph in the notice says that primary and secondary school students should engage in appropriate outdoor activities during class breaks. Additionally, 30 minutes of physical activity during the daily midmorning break will be organized to give students more time to engage in outdoor activities and long-distance viewing, enabling their eyes to rest fully from visual fatigue.

Midmorning breaks can address more than just vision problems. Physical activity during breaks help children to not only exercise but also reduce stress, making subsequent classroom learning more focused and effective. At the same time, midmorning physical activities provide children a platform to engage in social activities, strengthening their social adaptation abilities.

Sometime toward the end of 2023 there was a huge clamor after some schools did away with even 10-minute breaks for primary and secondary school students. The Ministry of Education responded by saying that it would further regulate activities in schools. Before the latest notice was introduced, several related policies had been guaranteeing midmorning physical activity for primary and secondary school students, which have now been implemented in many cities, showing good results.

To effectively utilize the 30-minute midmorning break, teachers play an essential role because they can enrich the activities to the maximum extent by combining the interests and hobbies of children of different age groups and adding various sports activities that will benefit children the most. At the same time, it should be clear that the midmorning break is not solely the responsibility of physical education teachers. Because of the large-scale activities involved, the large number of participants, and the complex processes, it requires a multilevel hierarchical management mechanism mobilizing school superintendents, physical education teachers, class teachers and other staff members to ensure the breaks are used effectively.

To make the most of the 30-minute midmorning break, it is also crucial to stimulate the enthusiasm of children. Some schools equate the midmorning break with calisthenics, which not only fails to achieve the goal but also leads to a lack of enthusiasm among students. Innovating the form and content of the midmorning break and mobilizing students' enthusiasm and initiative to participate in midmorning activities are urgent priorities.

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