Jia Xin found her interest in Early Childhood after her part-time stint at a childcare centre as an assistant relief teacher after her O Levels. Though the role was challenging and Jia Xin doubted her ability to handle it, the innocence and laughter of the children motivated her to persevere on and she eventually fell in love with the job. She realised that Early Childhood educators were not merely nannies who took care of children. They were personal “managers” of children who carefully curate lessons to create learning opportunities to develop children holistically.
I started my journey in the early childhood industry after receiving my ‘O’ level results when a friend of mine recommended me a job as an assistant relief teacher at a child care centre. I took it up immediately, thinking that it would be an easy feat as all I had to do was to play with the children. However, when I started reading up about the job scope, I became unsure about my decision. For one, I was not one who enjoyed school myself. For another, I had low self-esteem and disliked socializing with people. Nonetheless, I went ahead with the job, telling myself not to overthink.
I was assigned a Nursery 2 class that fateful day. True to my fears, it was a lot of hard work. I did not know what to do with the children the whole day and was even faced with other challenges such as changing diapers for the first time and dealing with a child who threw a tantrum. While I thought I would never want to return to the centre after that day, I found myself missing the children’s adorable giggles and innocent remarks and I did go back eventually. Before I knew it, days became weeks, and weeks became months. I then realised the meaningfulness of being an early childhood educator: beyond the routine care activities like changing diapers, showering or feeding which were themselves important for the care of the children, teachers are personal “managers” for the children who work out diverse plans to create opportunities for their holistic development.
My decision to take up the Diploma in Early Childhood Education at Ngee Ann Polytechnic was made with the support from my mother. When she encouraged me to apply for the course, I knew it was a reaffirmation for me to join the early childhood field.
Studying was never my forte, but thinking about how I could help the children motivated me to work hard to improve myself during my studies. My lecturers and tutors were extremely helpful and patient with me as they tended to my endless concerns and questions in class and helped me develop into a confident and competent student teacher. My diligence paid off when I performed well for my internship as well as my final year project. As a result, I received an Edusave Achievement Award, thanks to all the support I received from my family and my lecturers.
What I looked forward most in school were the weekly attachments at the child care centre. Being with the children was a time for me to reflect on what I have learnt and refresh myself as my stress was relieved whenever I receive hugs from them. Over time, I have also grown to enjoy interacting with parents and grandparents about their children and discussing ways to help the children grow.
Before taking up the ECDA Training Award (Polytechnic), I had to work part-time to support myself financially. Besides taking up my time and energy, I was not able to focus well on my studies. To help relieve my financial burden, I took up the award which provided other additional benefits during my studies. I was motivated to improve my skills and knowledge as an early childhood educator as an award recipient. With the workshops and conference organised by ECDA, I was able to expand my horizons and interact with other passionate individuals from the EC sector as we shared about our goals, experiences and advice on how to improve our skills as an educator and help the children around us.
With an interest in art and creative expression, I hope to become a curriculum specialist and delve into research that helps me learn more interesting teaching techniques from other parts of the world. Where possible, I would love to gain global experience to improve the early childhood sector in Singapore and raise public awareness of how a preschool teacher is a meaningful and honourable role.
While it may sound cliché, I would like to share with my juniors that early childhood educators do not just teach for a moment but we are teachers who are capable of making a lifelong impact and shaping the future generations to come. There are other tracks that you can take to make a difference in the early childhood sector, so go out and look for the possibilities. Find your individual talents and specialisation. In any situation when you face hardships, persevere through and be the positive change in that circumstance.