I was really excited when I received a call that told me I was selected to go through a 2-day trial at a kindergarten. You see, I am now in the process of self-discovery and on a journey to find a career that I will be happy in. It’s a little risky and a little unstable, because for a long while, I just couldn’t decide whether I want to find a job and was afraid that I couldn’t cope with new challenges ahead. But once I opened my heart to all the possibilities that the universe might have for me, opportunities came immediately. It is pretty amazing. So I took a leap of faith, and applied for many part time jobs and also a sponsorship for diploma in childhood education just two weeks ago, and now, I actually stumbled into working at a health screening research facility for NUS Centre of Molecular and Epidemiology! And then, because I only had to work Thursdays to Sundays, I had a chance to go for the attachment at a kindergarten on Monday and Tuesday. Everything seemed like it was planned out properly, and it felt great. :)
I probably can’t say much about the health screening, because I have to adhere to a whole list of confidentiality and trust agreement, but all I can say is that it’s a research on Singaporeans’ and PRs’ habits, body, blood and urine specimens. In return for participants’ specimens, we give them a basic health report free of charge and also an $80 cash appreciation. At this job, so far so good, and I’m enjoying myself! :D It’s challenging, and a good chance to observe how clinical trials or health screenings are carried out. But I’m sorry, this post is supposed to be of my kindergarten experience!! Forgive my digression…
Day 1: Monday
Met the centre principal, got introduced to the teacher whom I’m attached to, Teacher Magis, and her nursery class. And at 8am sharp, the doors opened for the kids! First thing when the children enters, temperature taking and washing of hands. They are very diligent in this, due to the constant threat of hand, foot and mouth disease. Then, it was assembly!
The kids stood in their rows and sang the national anthem, said the pledge in both English and mandarin, and the school song. I was completely stunned and ashamed, because I didn’t know how to say the pledge in mandarin, I never learnt it in school!! Haha but I roughly know so I mouthed the words along. Zzz. During my time, they didn’t teach the Chinese pledge!! Their school song is very cute, complete with dance actions.
One period is half an hour, and everyday, they will have one Chinese class, one English class, one snack time, one play time, and outdoor activity on certain days. So lucky that Monday had outdoor activity and we all brought two classes of nursery kids to a nearby void deck for some exercise. The teachers led the kids through a simple obstacle course where they had to hop across 3 hula hoops. MAJOR CUTENESS PLS. Haha
Chinese class is taught by Lu Laoshi, who is dramatic and teaches in a sing-song voice. I like the way she handles the kids. She is fierce at appropriate times and has a loud voice so the children listen to her.
The aunty with curly hair is the centre aunty, who goes around making sure that the environment is clean and safe for the kids to be in, and also acts as a surrogate grandma. Haha. It’s cute to see the kids call out to her endearingly. The kids are queuing to go home!
There are two kindergarten and nursery sessions in a day, 8am – 11am and 1pm – 4pm. For both sessions, the same lessons take place.
Day 2: Tuesday
First thing in the morning, I was told by Teacher Magis that another teacher was having her practicum and unable to take a class. And all teachers are busy with their own classes. So…. I had to do it! Holy moly. What is this?! I just came yesterday, haven’t had any proper training, no cert, and there I was, having to take a class by myself. I was a bag of nerves. Haha I was at a lost of what to do at first, and the kids were getting restless.
Then a teacher passed me a story book, and so I read the book to the class! Lucky for me the kids were quite well-behaved and they actually listened!! It was only for half an hour, but it felt like eternity. It was difficult to control a class of 14 kids, once one gets excited, the rest would also be excited and stand up to run around. I was hoping for Lu Laoshi to come quickly and take over.
Finally, after I was done with my ‘relief teaching’, I went back to the class that I was attached to. And to my surprise, I got to join in a birthday celebration of one of my kids! It reminded me of the time when I had my own birthday celebration in kindergarten too.
My class. All of them are so cute and so attention-seeking in an adorable way. During playtime, they would call out for me, “Teacher!” and come to hold my hand to bring me to their play area and show me their toys. Haha I wish I could split myself and attend to all of them.
See the houses that they built with the toy blocks, those in the picture was only half done. By the time they finished building, a couple of their friends came to admire them. I was so amazed at their creativity and imagination. I asked if I could stay in the house, and they replied, “No, you’re too big!” hahaha I was so delighted cuz no one has said I was big in such a long time. Hehe.
I didn’t manage to get too many photos cuz I was busy dealing with the kids most of the time. But let me just show you some corners of the centre. The place is a little old, and will undergo renovation in dec.
See the little red chair in front? That’s where the teacher sits to conduct classes :). Cannot take it, even the teacher’s chair also so cute.
The play area.
I helped to put up the kids’ art n craft creations! :D Nice? All of them are so well done and cute.
Alas, my time at the centre came to an end. First of all, I am so grateful for this opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a kindergarten teacher. To be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much, but I did. The love and acceptance from the kids really warmed my heart. They only knew me for two days but took to me instantly. From the moment they saw me on the first day, they kept stealing glances, but after awhile, they smiled and waved hello to me. Ahhh… And during playtime, I had so much fun! I hardly had to scold them, actually I couldn’t bear to. They are too cute! I learned that to be effective with them, I need to be firm, but not overly fierce. But when the children get overly excited and become too rowdy, its necessary to raise my voice a little.
I miss the children!! But… After careful consideration, I don’t think I can make this a career. Although teachers feel a sense of satisfaction from teaching the children, the pay is too little. Do you know that PCF kindergarten/child care teachers in Singapore are paid peanuts? From what I know, a nursery teacher in the centre that I went to is paid $1800, and a kindergarten teacher is paid $2000. I don’t know why they are paid so little! And there the govt is, wondering how to attract and retain teachers in the childhood education sector. The answer is actually very simple, increase the pay! The cleaner Aunty shared with me that in 2005, the pay was only $600, compared to her own salary of $550. How ridiculous! Although over the years, the pay increased from $600 to $1800, due to inflation, I dare say that there was no effective raise at all.
The govt is always sending teachers for sponsored upgrading courses, but I feel that opportunities for upgrading shouldn’t be an excuse for a meagre pay. No matter how much satisfaction a person can get from his/her job, a low pay is an important push factor. That’s why I admire the work that the teachers are doing with the kids. After all, teachers are doing a service to future generations. They are practically role models and mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters to the children. Apart from teaching academic knowledge, they also impart social skills and moral teachings. Now that both parents are out working to earn enough income, they have less time to interact with their children, and childhood education teachers have to come in to take up a part of that responsibility. I think the government should do more for them.