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Parents, wanting better lifestyle for their kids, welcome recommendations

SINGAPORE — Concerned that her three-year-old son might be spending too much time playing games on the iPad, Ms Evelyn Chua, 33, occasionally takes him out on weekends to spend some time outdoors.

SINGAPORE — Concerned that her three-year-old son might be spending too much time playing games on the iPad, Ms Evelyn Chua, 33, occasionally takes him out on weekends to spend some time outdoors.

As such, the NurtureSG Taskforce recommendation for pre-schools to offer at least an hour of physical activity daily — with 30 minutes spent outdoors — was welcomed by Ms Chua, who believes it could make up for the time her son spends indoors using electronic devices.

Other parents TODAY interviewed agreed, even those who already set aside time for sports and the outdoors for their children on weekends.

Ms Karen Teo, a mother of a four-year-old and two-year-old, makes sure they spend at least two hours on weekends outdoors playing football, swimming or going to the playground. But on weekdays, she has less oversight of her four-year-old’s time in pre-school. “If they go outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day, they will behave better,” she said.

Another parent, Mr Edwin Cheng, 35, spends almost every weekend cycling at parks or taking walks with his son. He welcomed having an extra hour of physical activity each day for his son, but noted that this may not be feasible for children who only attend pre-school for short hours.

The NurtureSG Taskforce, set up to study how young Singaporeans can be encouraged to adopt healthy habits, released a set of recommendations yesterday, which has been accepted by the Government. Apart from requiring increased physical activity, pre-schools will also have to meet nutritional requirements, such as not serving sugary drinks or deep-fried food to children.

Among the pre-schools, bigger players such as EtonHouse and NTUC’s My First Skool are confident that they will be able to meet the new requirements, pointing out that they already offer physical activity in their curriculum, while unhealthy foods have been axed from their menus.

EtonHouse said that it dedicates 45 minutes to two hours a day to outdoor and physical play for pre-schoolers, such as yoga. My First Skool, which runs 120 pre-schools islandwide, noted that it is already accredited under the Health Promotion Board’s Healthy Meals in Childcare Centre Programme, under which it encourages children to eat fruits and vegetables daily, and incorporates health facts and information into their daily learning.

Star Learners, a pre-school in the Thomson area, said it was worried that setting aside more time for physical activities might affect the time needed for other activities.

Principal Jerrica Lok said, “Some curriculum may need to be sacrificed ... It could be achievable if the hour can be split between the morning ... and at the end of the day.”

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