“Children from diverse backgrounds, coming together as a community of learners to gain knowledge, skills and make friends – this is what preschool education is about.”
To me, there is a deeper meaning in this field of work. It is not the academics that matter at the end of the day, but the child’s character. Preschool education is about caregiving, since I am spending one full day with the children; I can empower the children, make them go beyond their bottom line, and think out of the box.
Innocent Yet Straightforward (With No Hard Feelings)
I remembered how I went to a class one day and one of my class children asked me, “Teacher Heather, how come your face got so many red red things?”
“Teacher Heather did not drink enough water, this is the reason why there are red things on my face, and the red things are called pimples, when you grow up, sometimes you might have it too”.
I did feel a little embarrassed back then because I was pretty insecure about the pimples that were all over my face back then. But I realized, children are just being children, when they speak what is on their mind, they don’t filter their words or sugar coat them.
Stubborn or Matured?
It was Mandarin class, and the song that was playing on the CD player is about this dog, sitting outside the door, with black eyes, and thinking of his edible dog bone. This song required the children to bark. There sat a boy who refused to sing this song, so I asked, “Why aren’t you singing the song?” He replied, “I am not a dog, why should I be singing this song?” I totally did not anticipate this coming from a boy in Kindergarten!
Growing Up Too Fast
Children can be very observant. I recalled this one incident when I painted my nails, and the girls were just so fascinated by the splash of colours all over my fingers. They started telling me which colour was nice, and they shared that their mummy painted their nails with nail polish, which is a good gauge of how exposed they are to the adult world. Sometimes I do wonder, are children these days overly-matured, or is it just the milk powder? They are behaving like small adults, which can be pretty scary at times.
The boy was probably in playgroup or toddler, and still in diapers. One afternoon, he decided to just take off his pants and diapers as he was walking home with his daddy. I saw the whole incident as I walking beside them. The boy cheekily took out his pants and diapers as he was walking. His father happened to catch him with his pants down, and he pulled it back for the boy. I will never forget the cheeky smile on the boy’s face. Times like these, when children do funny things that are not totally random and unexplainable, are gifts and reminders to us, to not take things too seriously.
A Story Behind Every (Mis)behaviour
Children can be pretty challenging at times, especially when you are a new teacher. Somehow, they know how to test your limits by pushing all your buttons. It takes the experience to learn how to be firm yet gentle with children. D left an impression on me because his challenging behaviour made it almost impossible for me to conduct my lessons.
In my mind, I labelled him as one of the ‘naughty’ children in my class but I never called him that in class openly. One day, he came up to me and said, “Teacher, I know I did not behave well when you first came in, but you see, I behave well in your class now, I am your friend okay.” And he gave me his signature cheeky wink and smile.
Most of the time, the “naughty” ones are most impressionable.
But I believe there is also a reason behind their behaviours which we might miss out. For D’s case, I found out later from his Form Teacher that his parents his father abused his mother, and they were actually undergoing a nasty divorce. Sadly, this was met with more bad news when I heard D’s father committed suicide later on.
D had to face all these when he got back home.
From this incident, I learnt a very important lesson: To always look beyond the surface of the behaviour of the child. There is always an underlying reason or need that is not met that is causing the child to act in a certain manner.
By Heather Yew.
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