Despite early doubts, former nurse finds success working in pre-school

Ms Jacintha Jayadas reads a book with infants in her care at Tots and Teddies pre-school in Telok Ayer. PHOTO: EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

SINGAPORE - The sight and sound of infants laughing are among the reasons Ms Jacintha Jayadas looks forward to her work as an early childhood educator.

The 27-year-old said that even on weekends, when she is off, she misses the children.

Ms Jacintha, who is single, now works at Tots and Teddies in Telok Ayer, after making the switch from nursing in 2017.

Despite initial worries that she might not be able to handle the work, the nurse of two years feels more confident now in caring for infants aged two months to 18 months.

This is due to guidance she received from senior teachers, principals and others, she said.

Ms Jacintha, who has a diploma in counselling, is among 17 pre-school educators and eight centres to receive awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Development in a virtual ceremony held on Saturday (Nov 28).

The awards are meant to highlight the professionalism of the early childhood sector and recognise outstanding and promising early childhood educators and centres, according to the Early Childhood Development Agency.

Ms Jacintha received the Promising Early Childhood Educarer Award for her work in building relationships with the families of the children as well as the quality of her care for the infants.

Among the centres that won awards is Chatsworth Preschool, which has two campuses here.

It received the Early Childhood Innovation Award (Distinction) for its Language of Food project, which aims to cultivate responsibility during mealtimes.

Its centre at Piccadilly Circus in Seletar got toddlers involved in a number of activities, from food preparation to cleaning up the kitchen space.

It also customised and integrated the food pantry into the classroom, so that mealtimes could become part of the curriculum, with children picking up skills such as language, numeracy and motor coordination.

In a pre-recorded video for the ceremony, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said that the award winners showcase quality standards in teaching, caring, leadership and innovation in the early childhood sector.

"But they are just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond the visible are thousands of educators who continue to give their best every day, inspiring, teaching, caring for, and nurturing our children," he noted.

"I hope that all our early childhood professionals will continue to strive for excellence as a fraternity and cheer one another on, as we work towards a common goal of giving every child a good start in life," added Mr Masagos, who also said early childhood professionals are the heart of quality pre-schools.

"A good educator makes a good pre-school, which produces happy and well-developed children," said Mr Masagos.

Ms Jacintha Jayadas interacts with an infant in her care at Tots and Teddies pre-school in Telok Ayer. PHOTO: EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

Ms Jacintha is currently enrolled in a part-time degree programme in Early Childhood Guidance and Counselling. She will graduate in March next year.

"With training in counselling, I can help more children address problems or situations they may face," said Ms Jacintha.

Her nursing experience has helped. When something happens, such as an accident or a fall, she is able to respond quickly.

"I immediately know my next course of action, and I'm not afraid of blood or bruises, and I can think on my feet," she said.

She enjoys her work as an infant educarer, as she feels it is at this stage in their lives where one can really make a difference.

"I can contribute to the first step that they take, the first words they speak," she said.

"I feel like I help the parents the most at the infant stage because many of them are first-time parents," added Ms Jacintha.

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