At a young age, NTUC First Campus Pre-Service (NFC) Scholar Queenie Chan discovered her love for children.Inspired by her pre-school teachers growing up, Queenie pursued a purposeful career in Early Childhood Care and Education. She desires to activate every child under her care (including those with special needs and lower-income backgrounds) to reach their full potential.
What Sparked Your Interest in Early Childhood Care and Education?
When I was 15 years old, I volunteered at a children’s programme every Saturday and from this programme, I learned that I don’t just enjoy the presence of children but also the planning of activities to engage them and to encourage them to participate and return the following Saturday. My volunteering experience reminded me of my younger days. I had wonderful pre-school teachers that were loving towards me and that made me want to join this profession.
Why Did You Begin Your Early Childhood Care and Education Career in NTUC First Campus?
I decided to start my journey as a pre-school teacher in NTUC First Campus (NFC), a social enterprise and an established local pre-school operator encompassing a wide spectrum of children including those from lower-income families. In addition, NFC gives relevant trainings to upgrade the skills of educators to reach one’s goals and aspirations. Therefore, I chose NFC because I am able to see myself creating an impact on children, I will grow professionally as a pre-school teacher and eventually be experienced enough to be a centre leader.
As an Early Childhood Educator, What Are Your Career Goals / Aspirations?
As an educator, my goal is to impact knowledge to every child under my care to ensure that they can reach their utmost potential and have a good start in life. I aspire to be exposed to the various teaching methodologies available and to be able to build relationships with the families and caregivers whom I work with. Eventually, I hope to become a centre leader capable of leading and mentoring my own team.
What Are the Opportunities That the Company Have Given During Your Employment With NTUC First Campus?
NFC has provided me with both internal and external trainings opportunities to upgrade my skills, widen and deepen my curriculum knowledge and pedagogy. This also includes an opportunity to further my studies in undertaking a Bachelor’s Degree in Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) through NFC’s in-service scholarship. With this scholarship and the support from NFC, I feel valued and more at ease knowing that I can further grow professionally as an early childhood educator. I am empowered to better manage both my studies and work commitments.
How Did the Company Support in Your Career Growth?
When I first joined NFC, I was guided and mentored by my principal and the head of the Relationship-Based Curriculum specialist (NFC-owned curriculum for 0 to 3 years old children). They helped me by ensuring that they clarified every doubt I had, allowing me to improve my lessons and pedagogy as a pre-school teacher. Through their guidance, I was able to have my work published as one of the examples in the NFC curriculum guide. The curriculum specialist’s passion in teaching and guiding new novice teachers like myself has inspired me to be a better educator for the children.
Share With Us One of Your Biggest Achievements as an Early Childhood Educator.
My biggest achievement would be the relationship I forged with families of the children that I have taught. This is even more apparent during the circuit breaker period. The parents of the children whom I have taught in the past will call and show their concern to me. Also, I felt a sense of achievement when my work was published in the NFC curriculum guide. With these two achievements, it gave me the confidence to pursue greater goals such as becoming a mentor, a lead teacher, a deputy centre lead/ vice-principal and eventually a principal.
Are There Any Memorable Encounters During Your Course of Career That Involves Social Purpose/Social Mission?
NFC caters to all levels of families regardless of income and as a social enterprise, we aim to ensure that every child has a good start in life by giving them equal opportunities to achieve developmental outcomes. There is one child in my class who needs more developmental attention and the parents were very concerned as they voiced out that they lack the finances for any enrichment programme. Moreover, Development Support Programme (DSP) only caters to older age group that is 5 – 6 years old. Hence, I planned out differentiated learning activities for him with one to one session. During the circuit breaker, he continued reporting to the centre and each week, I will receive updates from the teacher through picture and videos. With these regular updates on his development, it helped me to continue planning activities according to his needs. After the re-opening of the centre, everyone saw a tremendous growth in him and they were amazed by how much he could fluently express himself through his actions and words.
What Are Some of the Challenges That You Faced as an Early Childhood Educator?
Due to my young age and perceived inexperience, parents tend to question my capability as a pre-school teacher. Therefore, my great- est challenge is to convince them that despite being a young teacher, I am qualified to impart knowledge and care for their children. Thankfully, with the help of my supportive principal and my sincerity, I am able to improve myself and convince parents that I am a professional pre-school teacher. Also, I am very grateful to have a very supportive principal who helps me by giving me constructive feedback to further enhance my professionalism.
Do You Have Any Advice for Interested Parties Who Are Considering Joining This Sector / NFC Pre-service Scholarship?
After obtaining a scholarship, the logical next step would be to wholeheartedly embark on a bonded teaching journey with a company. Naturally, that is a major endeavour, one that can bring about concerns. Speaking from my experience as a young pre-school teacher, allow me to alleviate some of your trepidations. All the necessary methodologies, skills and theoretical knowledge that are taught during the degree programme are perfectly aligned with the mission, vision and core values of NFC. I felt greatly supported by the company and always felt capable of achieving my professional goals. Therefore, none of the challenges that I faced at work was daunting. I have had to customise my methods of engagement with children of differing needs. I gained great self-fulfilment as I saw them displaying a mastery of their newly obtained knowledge through their words or actions. This came in the form of using materials that I had painstakingly prepared or simply understanding and observing rules. Most importantly, as I witnessed their emotional, cognitive and physical development, it made all my hard work worth it. I am sure that all these positive reinforcements will keep me going strong within this industry in the road ahead.
CHAN DING QIN, QUEENIE
First Campus Pre-Scholarship
Now: Preschool Teacher (English Language) at My First Skool
Attained: Diploma in Early Childhood Education, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
(currently undergoing Bachelor’s Degree in SUSS – sponsored by NFC)
From: Ngee Ann Polytechnic