Displaying an impeccable balance of firmness and gentleness with the children, Tricia conducts her lessons with finesse. Nevertheless, she has not always been the seasoned Early Childhood professional that she is now.
Tricia’s interest in Early Childhood was sparked even before she entered the industry. During her term as a Secondary School Chemistry teacher, she observed that some students who exhibited behavioural issues lacked support and guidance from their family. More importantly, she realised that habits and mindsets have to be shaped at a tender age. These kindled her desire of going into the Early Childhood sector.
“It takes great courage to make the switch.”
Making a mid-career switch to Early Childhood Education has not been a smooth journey. Many expressed surprise at her intention to teach a younger age group, and questioned if she would be able to adjust to the new environment and lifestyle. However, her strong desire to learn more about the Early Childhood sector far outweighed her fears. It is this insatiable thirst for knowledge that has kept her going. Even after 7 years, Tricia is still in the process of self-improvement as she pursues her Master of Education (Early Childhood) at the National Institute of Education (NIE) on a part-time basis.
Tricia describes the mid-career switch as a process of self-discovery. Although it was a daunting decision from the start, Tricia discovered her unceasing love for children. She also realised that she could overcome challenges she once thought were insurmountable. One instance was to adjust her teaching methods for a younger age group. From a more authoritative approach in the secondary school, she learnt to soften and be sensitive to the needs of the young ones. The more she understood the ways to interact with children, the more she discovered her hidden strengths and abilities.
Nevertheless, Tricia’s past experience in the secondary school is still relevant. She uses Chemistry to enrich the children’s knowledge of the world around them. For example, she has conducted age appropriate lessons to help them learn the differences between fresh eggs and stale ones - by observing if they sink or float in cold salt water. Her expertise in Chemistry comes into good use even in a preschool!
Acutely aware that pre-school children are especially impressionable, Tricia is careful to impart good values to them. She is impartial with the children. For instance, whenever an incident involving a few children occurs in class, she takes time to hear and understand their varying viewpoints before coming to any conclusions. She believes in reasoning with them and guiding them to reflect on their attitudes. Most importantly, she teaches them to take responsibility for their own actions, inculcating in them the fortitude to face up to their mistakes and to learn from them.
Tricia’s dedication towards building her relationship with children is admirable. She fondly remembers a child who used to be taciturn and bad-tempered in class. However, she resolved to speak with him for 5 minutes every day before the start of school to prepare him for class. She would also catch up with him every day after school to reflect upon the day’s happenings. Through Tricia’s patience and perseverance, the boy gradually opened up and showed tremendous improvements in his behaviour.
When asked for tips that she can give to those who have also made a mid-career switch, she shares that firstly, challenges can be approached with a positive mindset. Even though some children may misbehave at times, teachers should always have the hope that their children can change for the better. Secondly, teachers should enjoy what they are doing, without which each day in class will be a chore. Lastly, even though mid-career switchers may not come in with the necessary skills for teaching pre-school children, they should be willing to invest and devote their time to learning the ropes.
Being an Early Childhood professional is the perfect job for Tricia and she has never looked back.
- This article was written by Chloe Fong -
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