Going to school for the first time is a period of adjustment for both infants and their parents. Find out how one infant educarer's love and compassion for children helped make school and enjoyable experience for her young charges.
Parents are often worried when their children start to go to school. Mrs Geraldine Chow was no different. When she first sent her four-month-old daughter, Myka, to an infant care centre, she was worried that Myka would have difficulties adapting.
"For any first-time parent, the unknown is always there," she shared.
To help Myka adjust, Mrs Chow made daily centre visits during the first week of school, only to find that her concerns were unfounded. Myka's transition was a breeze. Arriving at the centre each day with no fuss, Myka soon developed a particular fondness for one of the infant educarers, Madam Ni Xiao Bin.
"Myka would always stretch out her arms to Madam Ni and wouldn't hold back. I think Madam Ni stood out because she was exceptionally cheerful. She really knew how to handle Myka," Mrs Chow recalled.
The centre's supervisor, Ms Regina Quek, explained that as an infant educarer, Madam Ni's role is to deliver routine care to meet the children's needs. She is also responsible for developing weekly teaching plans comprising sensory-based activities that will help the infants and toddlers develop holistically.
Developing sensory-based activities for holistic development in infants and toddlers is part of Mdm Ni's role as an infant educarer
The work isn't always easy. Creating bonding and attachment is one of the most essential roles for infant educarers. Ms Quek believes that patience is essential when dealing with children, especially infants. Because infants are unable to speak or communicate their desires, a good infant educarer needs to be extremely observant, paying attention to physical cures to understand what each child needs.
"But with her motherly instincts, Madam Ni proved to be a natural!" Ms Quek said.
Madam Ni officially joined the early childhood workforce in 2012. Prior to that, she had chosen to be a full-time stay-home mother for her three children. When her children got older, Madam Ni kept herself occupied by volunteering at a pre-school near her home. It was then that a friend, noting Madam Ni's love for children, encouraged her to embark on a career in early childhood.
"I just like children, it's very fulfilling for me to see their progress as I watch them grow up," Madam Ni said. While many find it challenging to communicate with young children, through her experience, she has found that children are more intelligent than people think.
She explained, "They may not be able to speak, but they can see your expression. You smile at them, they will smile back at you. They understand how you feel about them. It's our job to protect them, not show favouritism, and work with compassion."
Indeed, Ms Quek noted that compassion is one of the most guiding traits of Madam Ni's work. She described an incident when Madam Ni was attending to a baby who had severe eczema and diaper rash. As the baby cried in pain, Madam Ni was brought to tears as well.
Another parent, Mrs Leong Siew Yong, attests to Madam Ni's work ethics as well. Her daughter, Audrey, had accidently cut her finger while playing in the infant care centre. That very same evening, Mrs Leong received a text message from Madam Ni, asking if Audrey felt better.
Mdm Ni with Mrs Leong and Baby Audrey
Echoing these sentiments, Mrs Chow recalled the days when Myka was the last child to be picked up from the centre. Despite her long work day, Madam Ni would always be energetic and attentive when handling Myka.
She was always excited to share stories about what Myka had done over the course of the day.
Madam Ni shared that she considers it a blessing to be able to share these experiences with parents. With so many of them busy at work, it is inevitable that they miss out on little moments with their child. So she tried to do her part to help by providing parents with regular updates on her daily observations.
From noticing that a child has grown a tooth, to explaining what it means when a child makes a particular gesture, it brings Madam Ni great job to keep parents updated about their child's development.
These updates do not go unappreciated.
Mrs Chow said that amid the numerous positive experiences her family has shared with Madam Ni, what meant most to her was Madam Ni's consistency in the way she handled her charges and communicated with their families.
"With her assurance, we have a peace of mind. We can better focus on other matters as we know Myka is in good hands. It also helps if Myka had a good day with Madam Ni. When we pick her up from infant-care, Madam Ni would share with us Myka's adventures. We can all end the day well together," Mrs Chow explained.
Mdm Ni with Baby Iman, Baby Kristen and her mummy
Ms Quek summed it up, "The ongoing communication builds rapport, and parents really trust her with their children. It is also heart-warming to see her efforts pay off as the children feel safe enough to explore freely and begin to look forward to coming to school."