ECDA TA Commendation Award Winner 2018 - Crystal Tan Wei Ling

Since young, Crystal knew that she wanted to pursue a career related to children as she loved interacting with them. Hence, after her O Levels, Crystal pursued an Early Childhood Diploma. However, her parents were not supportive of this as they did not think that Crystal was certain of her aspiration. Crystal eventually managed to change her parents’ opinion of Early Childhood through her actions. Her family is proud of her career choice now.


I love children. I love playing and interacting with them. My family knew that and always trusted me with their children during family gatherings. Thus, it became a natural decision for me to pursue early childhood as a career. Not only so, I also have fond memories of my own preschool teacher showering us with love when I was younger. Even till today, I remember my teacher’s name and the fun that I had during my preschool days. This further encouraged me to become an early childhood educator who helps children look forward to attending school.


Nonetheless, my journey to pursue my dream was not all that smooth-sailing. My parents were not supportive of me as they had preferred that I took on a more academic route by entering into a junior college before pursuing a degree at a university. It seemed to them that my ambition to become a early childhood educator was only based on a moment of impulse. When I eventually enrolled into the Diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, my parents were reluctant to provide for my studies. It was then that I took up the ECDA Training Award (Polytechnic) which covered my school fees, in a bid to show my determination to work in the field.


My parents’ opinion started to change when I shared my experience during internships with them. They saw the fulfilment and joy in me when I talked about the children’s growth and development. Gradually, they grew to affirm my decision to join the early childhood industry. “We are glad that you are happy and like what you’re doing,” they said. On Teachers’ Day each year, my parents also wished me “Happy Teachers’ Day”. Now, I have both the support from my parents and the allowance I saved from the Training Award which would allow me to pursue a degree in early childhood after completing my bond!


Throughout this time, my lecturers in Ngee Ann Polytechnic have also been more than a great help to me. Especially in my final year when it was hard to juggle school demands, the lecturers supported me both academically and emotionally. They would check in with me periodically even when I was away on internship to guide me through my issues. Their affirmation gave me the confidence to start my career in the early childhood sector.

As I begin my career as an educator, I would like to build a strong foundation before moving onto become a mentor in my preschool. My own mentor has been a pillar of support since I started work. To pay it forward, I want to be a mentor who guides new teachers as well as my mentor.


I also aspire to promote and create a more inclusive early childhood education sector in Singapore. Through the sharing of knowledge and resources within and across centres and working with like-minded teachers, I hope to develop frameworks on inclusive education for schools to adopt. Seeing typical and atypical children learning together in a safe environment (physically and emotionally) would be one of the greatest achievements I aim to make.


I hope to share with my peers and juniors that we should never forget the reason why we chose to pursue early childhood. There are bound to be challenges along the way and we may even be worn out because of them. Yet when we fix our eyes on the reason why we started out on this journey in the first place, we will be directed back to our passion, making the journey much easier to pull through.

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