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Hey Mum, I’m tired! : Malaysian Children’s Woes at School

How many parents have just gone through a near-traumatic experience of getting their children ready to start the new school year when they appear reluctant and non-cooperative? Have we, as parents, really wondered why?

A new school year can signify an important milestone for children. For some, it is their first time going to school and for others, a return after a long holiday. In between navigating classes and the stresses of leaving the comfort of Mum’s arms and home, a child’s day also includes after-school activities.

Every parent wants their best for their children and Malaysian parents are no different.  Generally known to push the limits, they tend to find every possible way to ensure their children get a holistic learning experience in the hopes that they may one day become successful adults. Between pushing children to go to school, tuition, ballet, violin and swimming classes, it isn’t uncommon for a Malaysian child to leave home at the crack of dawn only to be back at sundown.

With these long days ahead, do parents actually realize how much of a toll it takes on their kids?

Here’s what four primary school children had to say about their days. 

Lakhiesa Kanna, aged 10 is a gymnast and at her age, has ambitions of becoming a surgeon. “I have a lot of extracurricular activities like violin and singing classes after school. I always feel tired by the time I get home.” Her weekdays, and even Saturdays are packed through the week, with Sunday as her only day off. When asked if she ever felt differently, she said, “I feel I perform better when I’ve had enough to eat at breakfast. I get through my days better.”

Tariq Yaqub bin Ahmad Rezany, aged seven, experienced his very first day in primary school. Transitioning from kindergarten, Tariq was in an unfamiliar environment. When asked about his first day, he said, “I was very excited to start my first day at school but it was a very long day and I got very tired!”

In standard four, Aryana Zara Binti Abdul Hakim, exclaimed, “My days at school are so full it often leaves me feeling tired, especially if I have rushed in the morning and didn’t eat breakfast. Without the first meal of the day, I would feel like throwing up if I did physical exercise but also feel very hungry. My tummy will also be making lots of sounds!”
No stranger to the routines of primary school is Wan Ranea Qaleela bt Wan Muhd Fazli who at eight years old says that between school in the morning and afterschool activities, she loses track of time. At times, breakfast is missed in the morning and as a result, Wan Ranea says, “With no breakfast, my stomach starts to rumble and I cannot focus in class.” When Wan Ranea does have breakfast, she eats biscuits and has a hot beverage. On other occasions, her breakfast will vary from eggs, breads, nuggets or sausages.
Regardless of age, a common theme amongst the children was the feeling of tiredness having to go through their long days at school and after.
As an experienced mother, Nurul Iliani Ahmad, Senior Nutritionist from Nestlé Malaysia Berhad helped to shed light on the tiredness that Malaysian children seem to be facing, especially starting off their year at school.
“A day in the life of child is no joke. Their typical day can consist of more than 8 hours of study time and extra-curricular activities. For a young child, this can be very draining.”  She added, “After the long holidays of sleeping in and variable meal patterns, parents and children may have forgotten the importance of breakfast. They need to be reminded to consume the right nutrition at the start of the day to ensure sufficient energy for the day ahead.”
Quoting from MyBreakfast Study, Malaysia’s first and most comprehensive study on breakfast habits involving 8,705 children conducted in 2015 by the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, Iliani cited that 1 in 4 school children skipped breakfast at least 3 times per week. The study showed a prevalence of low physical activity levels among these breakfast skippers which ultimately affects daily performance. Concurrently, the study revealed a correlation between those who consumed malted beverages and those with higher levels of physical activity.
With these facts in in mind, Iliani concluded, “A key factor in combating low energy is to start the day right by fueling the body with a balanced breakfast that includes whole grains, fibre and protein. A nutritious breakfast consumed with a malted beverage like MILO® provides efficient energy release that will help get more out of children, both mentally and physically, so they can perform at their best throughout the day. Perhaps then, we will hear less of our kids telling us they are tired!”
For more tips and breakfast ideas, visit:
[Ref: Jeukendrup, A.E.; Gleeson, M. Sport Nutrition: An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance; Human Kinetics: Leeds, UK, 2010; pp. 124-125]