Two early childhood educators share their stories of how they are nurturing future generations, one child at a time.
For Grace Mah Haoning and Eunice Lim Yi Yin, who are Early Childhood (EC) professionals with NTUC First Campus (NFC), coaxing young children, mentoring staff and managing over-anxious parents are all in a day’s work. Grace is the Acting Lead Teacher at My First Skool at Guillemard, where she currently teaches the Kindergarten 2 class (children age 6 years old), while Eunice is the Deputy Centre Lead of My First Skool at Chin Swee. With a network of over 140 centres, NFC is on a mission to give every child a good head start in life.
Give us a rundown of a typical day at work.
Grace: Lessons start at 9am – my partner (Chinese Teacher) and I take turns teaching Language, Numeracy, Discovery of the World (Science), Art, Music, and Fine and Gross Motor Skills. At 11.30am, we shower the children, followed by lunch and naptime. In the afternoon, we have tea and continue with literacy or music lessons. Every evening, we head out for outdoor activities.
As Acting Lead Teacher for the Skool Ready section (children age 4-6 years old), I also act as a peer coach for other teachers, conducting weekly walkabouts and curriculum meetings to help improve classroom management and pedagogy practices.
Eunice: I support my Principal in running the centre. This includes ensuring smooth operations in the centre, providing support for parents, and mentoring staff in curriculum matters. This is to enhance professional development, which is a strong belief of the organisation. This is also to uphold the best practices of teaching and learning at the centre.
Besides that, I go for daily walkabouts at least twice a day to observe the environment and interact with the children to check in on their mental, psychological and emotional health.
What are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
Grace: Managing a class full of young children can be fun, but it can sometimes be tiring and overwhelming as they each have their own needs. I have a bag of tricks ready to entertain the children when they get upset. It can be something as simple as tying an elastic band to a toy spider or singing a nursey rhyme. This helps them re-focus on other areas instead of negative emotions.
Eunice: Interacting with parents can sometimes be challenging. There are times when some parents may not see eye-to-eye with us. This can lead to misunderstandings. We would then manage the feedback through investigations and then propose solutions to be implemented. However in every situation, we will always strive to understand parents’ concerns, and reach out to them for partnership in our children’s development.
Eunice Lim Yi Yin
Deputy Centre Lead
“I feel a swelling sense of pride and joy knowing that I had somehow made a difference in the life of children.”
Share with us a memorable moment in your career to date.
Grace: When I started teaching in 2015, there was a boy in my class who had additional needs. At first, he was only able to sit still for five minutes. I pasted stickers with all the children’s names on the floor according to their seating arrangement and encouraged him to find his sticker and ‘guard’ it. Soon, he was able to sit in for the entire lesson. From there, we continued working to get him to join in discussions and even do show-and-tell.
I am happy to say he has improved greatly since and is now very happy in Primary 1. His mother keeps me updated on his progress and whenever he visits, he always gives me a hug.
Eunice: I remember a child who appeared to be autistic. After observing him for some time, I suspected that he had Global Development Delay (GDD). My principal and I spoke to the parents, who brought the child for an assessment. True enough, it turned out to be GDD. Over the next two years, the child underwent intervention at AWWA Family Welfare Service and improved tremendously in terms of his social skills, fine motor skills and communication skills. On the day of his graduation ceremony, as I saw him stand on the stage doing his performance, I felt a swelling sense of pride and joy knowing that I had somehow made a difference in the life of this child.
How has NTUC First Campus supported you in your professional growth?
Grace Mah Haoning
Acting Lead Teacher
Grace: As I was not professionally trained, I needed to get myself certified first. NFC placed me on the trainee teacher scheme, which is a sponsored work-and-study scheme that allows you to earn a diploma at SEED Institute and gain on-ground experience at My First Skool centres. After 15 months, I graduated with a WSQ Professional Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and started teaching!
Eunice: As one of the anchor operators and leaders in the early childhood industry, NFC strongly believes in professional development. Termly curriculum trainings are held for teachers to enhance their teaching strategies and knowledge about the curriculum. NFC also sets aside budgets for staff to go on external courses for personal and professional development. For example, I will be attending a course on the Code of Ethics so that I can cascade the knowledge to my staff.
What do you find most fulfilling about your profession?
Eunice: I feel rewarded whenever I see a teacher grow under my mentoring, or when I see the results of the efforts we have put in as a team for the children and their families.
Grace: I find it extremely fulfilling to play a part in NFC’s mission in educating our future generations. Being able to interact with young children and help them develop into strong and confident individuals makes me feel that my work is worth the effort. When I see them graduate under my care, the sense of pride and happiness I feel is priceless.