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‘Never ever vent your frustrations on the child’: Preschool educator – Mothership.SG | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


 

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“I’m so happy you were my teacher so many years ago.”

This was what a 10-year-old girl told her preschool teacher when she visited her two weeks ago.

In an interview with Mothership, 26-year-old A’ishah Abdulattif, who has been in the childcare education sector for seven years, said she never thought being a childcare educator was a “thankless job”.

“The effect that you have on a child is so important, because when you do a good job, and you give your heart to that child and all your love, you will never be forgotten.”

Became a preschool teacher because she love kids

A’ishah said she became a preschool teacher because she loves kids.

She explained that her family had many young children, and she always found her interactions with children to be fascinating.

When she completed her A levels at the age of 19, she didn’t even think twice to join the sector immediately.

“I decided to just intern at a preschool and it ended up with me loving my job.

I felt privileged to be part of the growth of a child, to be able to watch them go from that age of being three or four, all the way up to six years old.

It’s a very meaningful journey.”

“You should never vent your frustrations on the child”

However, she admits that sometimes going to work feels like “a long day”, even though it’s “very fulfilling” most of the time.

“The day starts starts the moment you enter the school, right? We’ve got to watch out for the safety of the children. The health of the children. It’s just what you do throughout the day.”

She added that they not only have to educate and look after the children, but also become “part of whatever emotions they’re feeling throughout the day”.

“But never ever, ever vent whatever frustrations you have as an educator on the child.

There is nobody else more important than the child. “

Managing parents’ expectations

When asked about recent concerns on the quality of preschool educators in Singapore and child safety within the schools, A’ishah hopes parents can understand that “the doings of a few educators should not define the quality of our educators in this industry.”

“The majority of us are doing our best for the children. We know what our job scope is, we have been trained to do the work that we are doing now and we always do our best.”

That said, she pointed out that it is important for parents to understand that it is very important for them to work closely with the preschool to achieve the best for their children and should keep their expectations “within reasons”.

She said expectations for the preschool are good as they keep the educators grounded, professional and continuing to work on themselves. However, sometimes expectations can “get out of hand”, and it’s important for the preschool and parents to communicate and work together for the child.

“It cannot be an expectation where all the responsibility is surrendered to the teacher.”

She explained that, for example, it’s important for a child to develop good habits like finishing drinking their water or sitting down and concentrating on their work when adults ask them to.

However, she said it should be practised at home, too, so they learn through proper interactions outside of school. It will create an undue burden on the educator by demanding that it be taught only in school.

Hence, she said, keeping the tripartite relationship between the child, the parents, and the school is very important.

For example, her centre frequently conducts conferences with teachers and parents to ensure everyone is on the same page on the child’s development and plans together what is best for the child.

An expert on classroom management and strategies in early childhood education, Claire Chan, a National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) lecturer, explained to Mothership that she recommends building rapport with parents by acknowledging their role as the child’s primary caregivers and nurturers.

“Parents are the child’s first teachers and would know the child best. So inviting them to share about the child would also help the teacher to get to know the child better.”

She also agreed on the importance of openness and transparency between parents and teachers.

“Teachers should keep parents informed properly, whether it is regarding the child’s development or progress or incidents that occurred during the day.”

Culture of the preschool important

A’ishah recalls an incident with a particularly demanding parent that left her overwhelmed and stressed, impacting her mental well-being.

Thankfully, her former centre leader stepped in to mediate, facilitating communication between her and the parent to find common ground.

Today, as a newly minted centre leader, she creates a culture where “it’s truly like family” for everyone in her school.

“I’m very lucky because my senior centre leader already created this open-door policy even before I came in,” she said.

“Everybody is taking care of each other. And so because of the culture that we have created, when you see a fellow teacher, for example, hurting a child, what we practice is you call out the teacher and then you inform the centre leader what happened.

Why?

Because number one, you care about the child. Number two, you care about the teacher.”

She said it’s not to get the person in trouble but because when the culture is close-knit, people will know it’s to help each other out.

Hence, she said the culture of the preschool is very important, where everybody helps out each other and focuses on the children instead of wasting energy talking behind each other’s backs.

Safety of children

A’ishah also highlighted the importance of having standard operating procedures in place and followed.

She reassures parents that teachers are well-prepared for this and there are always “constant reminders” to teachers to ensure the safety of children.

A’ishah said as a centre leader, she conducts administrative meetings to reinforce these standards and regularly conducts centre walkabouts to observe classes.

“These things help teachers in a sense to remember how to take care of the well-being of both themselves and the students.”

Chan also suggested letting educators go for continuous professional development and training programs to equip them with effective strategies to manage difficult class situations.

For example, they can explore new and creative ways to engage children, particularly when verbal instructions fall short.

She illustrates this with an example of a teacher singing a song encouraging children to tidy up their toys while demonstrating how to do it. This method not only engaged the students but also instilled important values.

Doing it from the heart

After her long years in the industry, A’ishah has never considered leaving.

Her deep love for children is one of the primary reasons for her unwavering commitment.

She finds immense satisfaction in being a part of a child’s growth, witnessing their personalities evolve as they grow older.

Her perspective on the industry has not changed either.

“I came into the sector expecting to be able to interact with children and have good relations with them, be able to allow for them to express themselves openly and willingly and be able to provide a safe space for children to be themselves, and to take care of them to the best of my ability as an educator and that perspective has never changed.”

When asked if her job was thankless, A’ishah firmly replied, “Absolutely not.”

She shared many instances of parents and students who remembered and thanked her for her part in the children’s growth.

Meeting her ex-student recently also reminded her of the impact she has as an educator.

The student expressed gratitude for lessons that might seem inconsequential, such as buying food, sitting properly, and learning to write.

A’ishah understands that these seemingly small lessons profoundly influence a child’s growth.

However, she emphasises that the most important aspect of teaching is to “do it from the heart”.

Watch her interview here:

@mothershipsg a preschool educator speaks up #tiktoksg #preschool #earlyeducation #fyp ♬ original sound – Mothership

Top photo from Mothership/Chan Seng and Creative Thinkers Preschool

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