Engaging little ones through child-led learning is a joyful endeavour for this early childhood industry veteran
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keeping company with children has its benefits. For Ms Nicole Wong, centre principal of M.Y World @ Bidadari Alkaff Vista, interactions with her young charges give rise to workdays filled with wonder and excitement.
The 45-year-old, who has been in the early childhood (EC) sector for 27 years, recalled that during the lead-up to Chinese New Year, a child at her centre shared a story and singled out a Chinese opera character. To Ms Wong’s surprise, the other children became fascinated with Chinese opera characters and were curious to find out more about the different masks worn by performers.
Taking their cue from the children, teachers researched Chinese opera and crafted various learning activities to deepen children’s knowledge of this traditional art form. The preschool also invited representatives from the National Arts Council to share more about the dramatic and musical aspects of Chinese opera. To cap things off, there are plans for children to present what they have learned to seniors at a day care centre. “All this makes for meaningful learning,” said Ms Wong, known affectionately as “Ms Nicole” to her preschool family.
Close to 30 years on, Ms Wong’s love for her job remains intact.
Unlike 20 years ago, when learning at the preschool level was teacher-directed and confined to the classroom, present-day centres seek to build on children’s interests. The result is a learning journey that educators and children embark on together. For example, Ms Wong explained that educators today use technology as teaching tools and collaborate with community partners, such as the National Library Board and NParks, to facilitate and enable authentic learning experiences that go beyond the classroom.
Even as EC education evolves, parents’ expectations have also shifted. “In recent years, parents have placed growing emphasis on the significance of EC learning and development. Educators are expected to plan engaging activities that children will enjoy,” observed Ms Wong.
The drive and passion displayed by Ms Wong and her teachers have not gone unnoticed. Parents regularly express their appreciation to educators for providing a wide scope of opportunities to empower and support children in their learning. In many cases, teachers design activities to include parent participation as well, whether through take-home kits or by involving families in a neighbourhood clean-up drive. This allows parents to witness how children learn not just by passively receiving information, but by taking action and having fun while at it.
Said parent Mr Ronny Tandun, whose three children attend the preschool, “Ms Nicole has implemented various initiatives to ensure learning experiences are engaging and enriching. Since joining the centre, my children have blossomed intellectually and socially. They have developed a genuine passion for learning, thanks to the encouragement and guidance from educators.”
Mr Tandun, 43, also paid tribute to Ms Wong’s open communication style. “She keeps me and my wife well-informed about our children’s progress, and addresses concerns promptly and effectively. We truly appreciate her willingness to collaborate and work together as a team, fostering a strong partnership between the centre and parents.”
In fulfilling her role as a centre leader, Ms Wong is guided by the core values of care, honesty, respect and responsibility. “I ensure every team member feels motivated and valued in an organisation where teamwork and mutual respect are emphasised,” she stressed. “My role as a leader goes beyond tasks and titles. It is about nurturing a culture of empathy, collaboration and excellence. Together, we create a space where children thrive, parents feel confident, and our team flourishes.”
It is also important for centre leaders to be open to innovative ideas from their educators, Ms Wong pointed out. Recently, one of her staff broached some new ideas for teaching children about sustainability. She encouraged the teacher to give it a try by adapting lessons to match children’s stage of development and abilities.
Ms Isabel Ong, 23, a senior educator who has been based at the centre for the past three years, believes Ms Wong has made her more attuned to the roles and responsibilities of EC educators. “As teachers, we prioritise children’s growth and development. Likewise, Ms Nicole emphasises a growth mindset within the team. She readily shares her expertise and experiences, which enhance our teaching skills and abilities,” said Ms Ong. “Ms Nicole also sets an example in fostering good relationships with parents. She comes to work early most mornings, in time for the children’s arrival, and suggests ways to better engage families.”
When asked what she loves best about her job, Ms Wong shared her feel-good list: “Collaborating with colleagues, finding joy in learning with children, and savouring the little moments of growth and exploration make my journey in EC education rewarding.”
M.Y World Preschool was founded by Metropolitan YMCA in 1980 and appointed as an anchor operator in 2014. Be part of our inspiring team that shapes the future. Elevate your career and grow with us!
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