More fun and joy as 'double reduction' ushers in a relaxed winter vacation
Children across China have got the much-needed breather to savor a fun-filled holiday, as they kickstarted their first winter vacation after the implementation of the "double reduction" policy, rolled out in July last year to alleviate the pressures of excessive schoolwork and off-campus tutoring.
Children are no longer drowned in homework and extra classes this winter vacation. "I've never had a more pleasant winter vacation since I entered primary school," said Chang Xinyue, 12, in Taiyuan, north China's Shanxi Province.
The sixth grader's holiday plan, all made by herself, has no tutoring classes and piles of homework. Instead, she has plenty of time for her hobbies.
Her holiday schedule includes three hours of study every day, playing go chess, reading and exercising.
"She used to be exhausted after a full day of tutoring classes, but now she is certainly more self-motivated," said Chang's mother with a sense of pride.
For over a decade, the same scenes had played out in every Chinese household with a school-age child during vacation – kids overwhelmed with extra classes and parents or grandparents busy shuttling between these training centers, as holidays are believed to be "golden opportunities" to make up for missed classes and improve preparation for the forthcoming semester.
The "double reduction" policy was rolled out at a time when both students and parents were feeling the strain of an excessive academic load and overheated off-campus tutoring. The move, which relieved both sides, has brought the main education court back to campus and liberated children from having to jump the gun, which is detrimental to their overall development.
Education authorities in China reiterated their stance earlier this month ahead of the winter vacation to ensure that the policy is strictly followed.
"The 'double reduction' policy relieves children of their strenuous studies and is beneficial to their overall abilities," said Ma Huiqin with the Taiyuan Education Bureau.
Instead of being stuck with course books, children are now more encouraged to go outdoors, have fun and devote more time to physical and mental wellbeing.
Xu Haoxin, a second grader from Taiyuan, is looking forward to the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. "I will learn about the Winter Olympics in advance and watch the games with my parents. I'll also pay close attention to the medal tally," Xu said.
Meanwhile, Li Siqi, a third-grader from the city of Lanzhou, northwest China's Gansu Province, is spending most of his time during the vacation reading and working out.
"Swimming and soccer are his favorite sports. Since he is interested, we'll try our best to give him a happy childhood," said Li's mother.
Bai Xiaojing, another parent in Lanzhou, said she used to stuff her kid with various training courses in holidays, which did not help much in the academic performance but "had made everyone weary and strained the parent-child relation."
"The new policy has also made parents like us reflect and reevaluate what kind of education is appropriate and better suits our kids," she said.
Psychologists believe that the "double reduction" policy is helpful to the mental and physical health of the young generation.
Early attachment relationship is critical in creating bonds between a child and the primary caregiver, developing a healthy personality and good adaptability, said Tian Feng with the Chinese Association for Mental Health.
"If the early attachment relationship is not well established, psychological problems such as impulsiveness, anxiety and depression will easily occur during adolescence. Winter vacation under the new policy provides opportunities for parents to observe, understand and communicate with their children," Tian added.
After the implementation of the new policy, offline off-campus training institutions that offer curriculum subject programs have been reduced by 83.8 percent, and online training institutions have been reduced by 84.1 percent, with over 91 percent of students now participating in after-school services on campus, the Ministry of Education told a press conference in December last year.
The proportion of students who are able to complete written assignments within the specified time also increased from 46 percent before the new policy was implemented to more than 90 percent now, the ministry added.