Educators Who Shine: Leanne and Saiyidah's Odyssey in Early Childhood

Amidst the sound of children’s laughter and their boundless curiosity, Leanne and Saiyidah have discovered a career that thrived on challenges and heartwarming moments. For many, the prospects of nurturing young children may seem daunting, but to them, it was the most rewarding path they have chosen. Despite graduating from other fields of study, they joined the Early Childhood (EC) sector out of sheer passion for shaping young minds.

Saiyidah Binte Hasan, Infant Educator at Little Skool House International @ Mountbatten Square

Gravitating towards Early Childhood

Ms Saiyidah Binte Hasan, affectionately known to her colleagues as Ms Idah, had graduated with a Diploma in Human Resources. Her experiences with infants in her neighborhood had always intrigued her, and she enjoyed observing and interacting with babies. While keen to pivot, Saiyidah was also uncertain of the impact on her career trajectory. At this crossroad of her life, she chanced upon a letter, written to her future self during her teenage years. It said, “maybe you are taking care of kids at a childcare now!” And that was all Saiyidah needed to embrace her childhood dream and step into the Early Childhood sector, as an Infant Educator at Little Skool House International @ Mountbatten Square since 2018.

Quek Ying Ying Leanne, Senior Preschool Educator at Star Learners @ Yio Chu Kang

Like Saiyidah, Ms Quek Ying Ying Leanne did not have any background in EC education. Leanne had graduated from the Nanyang Business School, and was an air stewardess and banker for over two years before charting her pathway into EC. Influenced by her sister and cousins who were EC educators, Leanne discovered her interest in child development. After shadowing her sister to experience teaching young children, Leanne’s heart was set to enter the sector through Place-and-Train as a mid-career switcher in 2013, despite a pay cut. She is now a Senior Preschool Educator with Star Learners @ Yio Chu Kang.

Children immersed in a storytelling session with Leanne

Challenges in the Early Days

When Leanne and Saiyidah first joined the sector, they had their fair shares of challenges. In Saiyidah's early days as an infant educator, she grappled with the task of effectively communicating with infants who could not vocalize their needs. Similarly, Leanne found herself facing the intricacies of managing children with behavioural needs. Rather than being discouraged, both passionate educators were fuelled by the desire to enhance their skills and better cater to the needs of the children under their care.

Saiyidah engaging the child during playtime

Flourishing in their Career Tracks

Over the course of their EC career, both Leanne and Saiyidah progressed significantly in their own career tracks as Preschool Educator and Infant Educator respectively, each leaving their unique mark.

Keeping in mind the challenges when Saiyidah first started out, she was deeply passionate in fostering positive interactions with infant and toddlers. Determined to hone her practices, she embarked on a journey of self-improvement and enrolled herself in courses relating to the positive guidance of children. The course Essentials of 3Rs in Interaction with Infants and Toddlers, which she attended while on the Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Infant and Early Years Educators was especially memorable. “I learnt about the importance of showing respect to infants through bodily expressions, such as lowering to their eye level when conversing with them.” As Saiyidah weaved new strategies into her classroom practices, she found herself establishing stronger rapport with her infants. She could even guide other educators - “I also shared my knowledge with my colleagues, which enhanced the EC practices in our centre”.

Leanne mentoring fellow colleagues on curriculum

Leanne, too had her own aspirations in promoting the learning of young children, particularly in the design of learning environment. In her pursuit, she actively attended courses and experimented to optimise her classroom space for learning, as well as shared findings with fellow educators for knowledge exchange. Beyond that, Leanne was also in charge of mentoring junior educators when she was promoted to Senior Preschool Educator. To prepare for the role, Leanne took up several mentoring courses while she was on PDP for Preschool Educators from 2019 to 2023. She found the Mentoring Novice Teachers course the most impressionable. “Through the course, I was able to better identify signs of stressors from fellow educators and respond with appropriate strategies.” Leanne added that PDP gave her the opportunity to pursue professional growth in her areas of needs, motivating her to step out of her comfort zone such as leading in centre-wide projects.

Photo of Saiyidah with her Executive Principal, Ms Eunice Tong

Words from their Supervisors

As nominators who have watched them grow through the PDP, Saiyidah and Leanne’s supervisors were full of praises for them.

Ms Eunice Tong, Executive Principal of Little Skool House International @ Mountbatten Square attested to Saiyidah’s growth, “Saiyidah is now more confident in working with parents and is able to take the lead in overseeing infant care practices.

Leanne with her Centre Principal, Ms Zheng Shuling

Ms Zheng Shuling, Principal of Star Learners @ Yio Chu Kang shared that Leanne had progressed in leaps and bounds as a mentor. “As she gained valuable insights into teaching practices, Leanne would share her expertise with new educators to help them navigate initial teaching challenges. Her progression as a Senior Preschool Educator is testament to her unwavering dedication and genuine love for teaching.

Like two shining stars, Leanne and Saiyidah constantly strived to enhance their EC practices, to make the learning environment a better place for the children. Quoting Leanne, “Children who need the most love ask for it in the hardest ways, and I would therefore like to understand and help them to grow healthily”. With inspiring educators like Leanne and Saiyidah, our hope for a good start in every child shines brighter than ever.

Interested to take on more courses and upgrade your skillset as an educator? Nominations for PDP(Educators) are now open until 20 Oct! Nominate your preschool or infant/early years educators, or be nominated today!

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