updated 11 Dec 2011, 10:49
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Mon, Apr 04, 2011
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Is your job just another job?

In Singapore, one in four of the teaching force is made up of mid-career entrants. This is up from 15 per cent a decade ago.

Working with children can be extremely fulfilling, and especially so with young children during their formative years. Do you have what it takes to be an early childhood educator?

An educator at Learning Vision, an established network of pre-school centres, shares why she decided to make a mid-career switch and the skills required in early childhood education.

By Ms Gogilavani Subramaniam, Learning Vision, Singapore

The driving force behind my career change was sparked by a desire to help my own children in their education and to better understand their developmental stages. I started to appreciate the critical role that both parents and teachers can play in a child's education. That's when I realized I wanted to make a difference in children's lives, not only as a parent, but as a teacher as well.

In my previous corporate IT job, I was deskbound and worked in a structured corporate environment, with fixed lunch breaks and office hours. This was not the case when I became a teacher at Learning Vision; I found it to be a lot more dynamic, fun, flexible and immensely satisfying.

Is a career in early childhood education right for you?

On a fundamental level, you need to truly love children and find motivation in the non- tangible but heartwarming rewards that come with the role.

For me, job satisfaction comes from seeing the children under my care progress educationally, grow, make friends, develop confidence, and their own unique personality. You can't quite quantify the gratification in seeing a child blossom and know you had a hand in that.

Rewarding moments

An early childhood educator has one of the most important professions in the world considering the impact he or she can have on our future generations. But being an educator is not always easy because each child is unique. We need to harness our knowledge, skills and experience while ensuring that we do not apply a one-size-fits-all approach.

At Learning Vision, I am constantly managing individual personalities and a variety of learning styles. Each and every day I find myself being challenged on how to interact better with them, how to adjust and adapt to different pedagogical methodologies to meet each child's needs.

I remember a little boy who, when he came under my charge, was disruptive and withdrawn and did not have many friends. He was restless in class and not able to focus on the tasks that I set out for him. When I realized that he was more of a kinesthetic learner, I designed activity-based tasks involving three-dimensional models.

I also regrouped him with the children he wanted to be friends with. Such children learn best through hands-on activities and enjoy tasks that involve manipulating objects and materials. With the right group dynamics, this boy managed to build a 3-D hospital, enjoy his lessons, and make new friends.

Within three months of adapting to lessons based on his individual strengths, coupled with constant encouragement, this little child started to focus on his tasks. He became more cooperative and outgoing, and looked forward to coming to preschool and playing with friends.

Needless to say, I've built a strong bond with him, and it's truly wonderful to see his transformation.

Getting Qualified

A variety of skills are needed for a career in early childhood education.

I obtained my qualifications at Learning Capital College, where the early childhood diploma course is an 18-month programme that integrates theoretical knowledge and supervised hands-on classroom experiences.

This includes modules like principles and practices in early childhood care and education, curriculum planning and pedagogy, motivational theories and professional development, partnership with families and the community. There are also modules related to special education needs.

The government offers training grants through the Skills Development Fund, as well as accreditation of various tertiary programmes.

If you currently don't have the minimum entry requirements, such as the appropriate GCEs, you can embark on a foundation course first. Learning Capital College, in partnership with University of Wales, offers up to a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) programme in Early Childhood Education.

While full-time college courses are available, there are also many opportunities to study part-time if you are already working in a pre-school. In fact, learning as you work is a popular option as you get a salary at the start of the programme as well as a guaranteed job on completion. Learning Vision sponsored my course and their internship programme gave me a platform to immediately put my new found skills to use.

A rewarding career

I've been celebrating my switch to a career in early childhood education for over two years now. I take pride in doing my best for these children, and it has been truly rewarding to see the children under my charge grow emotionally, physically and socially day by day.

Gogliavani Subramaniam made a career switch after 10 years in the IT industry. She has three children, aged between 4 and 10 years. She teaches children between the ages of 5 to 6 years old at Learning Vision.

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