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The recent case of preschoolers being abused by their teacher is most unfortunate.
As a mother of two, I empathize with the affected parents. Educators are entrusted with the responsibility to develop and nurture our children’s well-being. Basic needs (meal and nap times, toileting habits and physical movement) are fundamental to ensure the growth of the child.
But teachers are human too, and it is not an easy job to be taking care of young children. If they are not caring towards the little ones in their centre, they are not cut out for the job.
Ms Perlin Shariff, a relief preschool assistant shared: ‘Our young children not only need to be fed, but also tender loving care, because they have feelings too! As they cannot speak in full sentences, they cry to express themselves. They just need some ‘sayang’ (display of love and care). Sometimes when I go back to the childcare centre to help, the children run towards me for a hug. I feel good because I know I can bring some form comfort to them.”
The 5 Magic Words
The Singapore Kindness Movements adopts the principle of teaching children proper manners from a very young age, preschoolers are encouraged to use five magic words ‘Please.’ ‘Thank you’, ‘You’re welcome’, ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Sorry’.
A common word like ‘Please’, conveys respect and humility. Teaching our children to request things politely encourages them to have a positive tone in their speech.
Saying “Excuse Me”, before interrupting others helps when children need to mingle in large groups.
Saying ‘Sorry’ takes courage, but it is a powerful word that can heal. Encouraging your child to say sorry does not mean he is weak, but it shows his strength in character. Encourage them to express genuine remorse like, ‘I am sorry I shouted at you.’ Helps remind them not to do it again.
Saying Thank You is a simple thing, but often forgotten.
You’re welcome! Shows reciprocity in acknowledging a person’s word of thanks.
Since values are better “caught” than “taught”, teachers who role-model what they teach are far more effective than those who don’t.
That said, parents too, can role model in supporting the educators and appreciating their daily efforts.
Ms Chong, a secondary school teacher shared, “We all know that the job of preschool teachers is often a thankless one. I’m truly amazed by how my kids’ teachers can always turn up for classes with smiles on their faces and are unfazed by the many difficult questions and challenges the kids (and sometimes their parents) throw at them. Most of all, I’m really thankful that my kids enjoy school and love their teachers a lot. At their young ages, they may not be able to show appreciation to their teachers yet, so I think as parents, we can help communicate our appreciation to the teachers on a more regular basis. As an educator myself, I’m heartened when I know the parents of my students are appreciative of my efforts and are willing to work with us for the well-being of their children, so likewise, I hope my children’s teachers know that we do appreciate their hard (and heart) work.”
Minister Ong Ye Kung, speaking at the National Kindness Conference earlier this year, said, “We are all in the same boat and have experienced abuse at some point of time. All the more, we can empathize with each other, and collectively stand up against the minority who may be abusive…Together we can do much better and make Singapore a much kinder and more pleasant place to live in. With that positive energy, we can achieve so much more.”
I used to joke that my child worked longer hours than me in preschool. Sending him off to preschool in the morning and only being able to pick him up after work. A preschooler typically spends close to 10 hours in school, five days a week makes it more than 50 hours a week! I cannot imagine the stress and long hours preschool educators face, only to go home for rest and repeat the cycle again.
While parents can empathize with one another, we also can stand up against people who may be abusive. The recent case shared above has shown the power of the collective efforts of parents, and we can play a role in cultivating a better and kinder environment for both our children and educators. A simple word of concern and care to the teachers does not cost much, but it means so much more to them. The kinder each of us is, the stronger we become as a community.
To the teachers out there, don’t let one bad egg make you feel rotten. Teaching is a thankless job and we as parents are appreciative of all that you do.
Happy Teachers’ Day!