Taking up a postgraduate course in early childhood education empowered one educator with the knowledge and skills to guide her pupils
By Toh Ee Ming
Jan 10, 2022
Sometimes, all it takes is the help of some superheroes to get the message across.
Early childhood educator Poonam Kaur Basant Singh has encountered children who were fidgety in class and would chat endlessly about their favourite superheroes with their classmates.
But instead of scolding these children for being disruptive, Ms Poonam found a better solution – tapping the power of these superheroes to bring across an important message on class etiquette. She designed superhero cue cards to indicate when the children should stay in their seats, and even superhero-themed counting activity sheets to capture their interest during lessons.
These were techniques she had learnt during her postgraduate studies in early childhood education under FlexiMasters, an initiative by Nanyang Technological University.
During the four-month course, she also gained a better understanding of how children learn through play. For instance, she has role-played being an injured car accident victim, a basketball coach, and even a road inspector, as part of outdoor play sessions to teach real-world lessons and values such as empathy, road safety, and how to react in crisis situations.
Ms Poonam says: “Being sensitive to a child’s well-being, confidence and attachment lays the foundation for lifelong learning for young children. Which is why early childhood educators like myself play a vital role in stimulating a child’s development and learning.”
Ms Poonam’s experience in the classroom is a testament to how perceptions have changed towards early childhood education. While people used to think that just having a diploma in early childhood education was enough, she has seen educators pursuing postgraduate programmes to raise the professionalism of the sector.
“Now, I see more teachers wanting to upgrade their skills because they feel they can learn a lot more, and that these courses guide them on how to be better in the classroom. We leave the biggest impression on children under the age of five because their brains develop rapidly at this age,” she says.
Teaching was a childhood dream for Ms Poonam, who fondly remembers the love and care her kindergarten teachers showed her. Intent on pursuing her dream, she graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2016 with a diploma in early childhood education.
In 2017, she was given the Early Childhood Development Agency training award. She later enrolled in the Singapore University of Social Sciences, joining the pioneer batch of full-time Bachelor of Early Childhood students.
Even after she had started work, she embraced a student-like mindset, which was why she decided to take up a postgraduate course while juggling her day job at a Ministry of Education kindergarten, where she has been teaching for the last one-and-a-half years.
Now, she enjoys being able to actively apply what she has learnt into her classroom. She also appreciates the fact that her lecturers and peers have a wealth of knowledge to tap on, many of whom are educators and centre leaders with decades of experience of working in local pre-schools.
For Ms Poonam, learning is a lifelong pursuit, and that is why she urges more adults to consider taking up postgraduate courses. She says the Early Childhood Education programme is planned with working professionals in mind, with well-paced-out classes and assignments that are practical for work.
“It is super fun to me, with so much to learn.”
Find out more about the NTU FlexiMasters certification at www.ntu.edu.sg/pace/programmes/fleximasters