Early Childhood Educator Pleads For Singaporeans To Recognise Their Efforts In Thankless Job

Most of us can fondly recall our secondary or primary school teachers.

But remembering who taught us in kindergarten or nursery, is considerably harder for obvious reasons.

Ms Stacey Elizabeth Toh bravely sought to address the long-standing stigma concerning ‘diploma-holding’ early childhood (EC) educators versus ‘degree-holding’ teachers on Wednesday (16 May).

Here’s her heartfelt post in full, we discuss it after the jump.


Disheartened by ignorant comments

Ms Toh recently joined a public Facebook group, only to have her “heart sink” while browsing through comments.

Presumably in response to unpleasant incidents involving early childhood educators.

She listed a few ‘gems’ from parents as follows:

1. Getting teachers fired

Just complain la to the Principal, get her out of job.

If I were you I demand compensation, go online blow big big, go MP. Then get the teacher fired.

Netizens who encouraged blowing matters up online, to get EC teachers fired.

2. Leaving children in school to make full use of fees

Of course la want to send your child home cos one less child to take care of mah.

This comment insinuated that EC teachers send children home on purpose, to lessen their load.

Just put your child in school till 7pm sharp. U pay what for school fees. Make full use la.

One response even hinted at that parents were entitled to leave their “child in school till 7pm sharp”, to make “full use” of the school fees paid.

3. Don’t trust EC educators unless they are mothers

Aiya all these teachers dont know one la, unless they are mothers if not dont trust them to take care, all they have is a cert.

Finally, a netizen asked parents not to trust EC educators “unless they are mothers”, as all they have is “a cert”.

EC educators are teachers too

Pointing out that social media posts only tell one-side of the story, she pleaded with Singaporeans to be less “narrow-minded” and “judgemental”.

Even though it “feels good to blow it up”, more drama will be added to the situation.

Claiming to speak on behalf of genuinely passionate EC educators, she proceeds to make a solid case that will tug on your heartstrings.

Striving to be perfect

Ms Toh argues passionately that when push comes to shove, EC teachers will risk their lives to protect the children under their care.

Although they are not perfect, they strive to live up to expectations every single day.

Tempering parents’ expectations

EC educators have to deal with 10-30 children per class in school, while parents have 1-5 at home, according to Ms Toh.

Thus, she hopes that parental expectations will be a tad more realistic.

Especially when parents ask them for advice on their children falling at home, out of their purview.

Conversely, when a child falls in school, EC teachers bear the brunt of a parent’s scolding.

We quietly acknowledge your shouts, your screams, lower our heads and apologise.

Loving students as their own

And why do they apologise? Not because they’re afraid of losing their jobs.

Ms Toh explains poignantly,

We apologise while our hearts ache for YOUR child because we love them.

And further emphasises that teachers like her, love their children with their “heart and soul”.

Getting children ready for life

EC teachers who are mothers have yet another indelible burden to bear.

They spend more time with children other than their own.

Plus, Ms Toh claims that they never give up on any of their students.

Writing emotionally about seeing her children walk down the aisle in their graduation gown,

We tear, we feel that ache, we feel that pride that YOUR children have grown up, ready for Primary 1, ready for life.

Most of all, she lists out what she misses with every graduating batch.

Their laughter, voice, cheekiness, stubbornness, tears, hugs…We will miss them dearly.

Thanks for seeing us as Teachers

Although her list could go on, Ms Toh decides not to pursue the matter further.

She feels her words may not reach “those who need to hear this” — with 1/5 of her friends sharing the same occupation.

Nonetheless, she gives a shoutout to the reasonable and understanding parents who are reading.

And thanks them sincerely for acknowledging a simple truth,

So if you are reading this, thank you, thank you for seeing us as Teachers.

Keyboard warriors be warned

We understand from Ms Toh that her post wasn’t to justify that EC educators were “always right and parents are always wrong”.

She continues to respects every parent’s right to “question, clarify or get upset over matters at school”, and fully empathises with parents who are unable to trust easily or feel helpless.

However, Ms Toh calls for keyboard warriors to be held accountable as their comments easily influence parents’ mindsets.

A thankless endeavour

With MOE’s new parking fees, primary, secondary and tertiary teachers were recently thrust into the national spotlight.

But as Singaporeans quickly jumped in to defend overworked and underpaid teachers, we may have left other educators by the wayside.

Curiously, early childhood educators in Finland & Denmark are famous for being highly qualified, well-paid and respected.

To support truly passionate teachers like Ms Toh, perhaps we should consider altering our mindsets in a similar fashion.

After all, we’re entrusting our best and brightest – some still in nappies – to these teachers.

A thankless endeavour indeed.

Featured image from Ministry of Education.