6 Changes In The Early Childhood Sector You Should Know About

Image: Iam_Anupong / Shutterstock.com

Everyone has certain assumptions about the Early Childhood (EC) industry, whether they know it or not.

Some would think “Teachers are just, you know, there to take care of your children.”

While others might say “This is where people go to when they have no other choice.”

But what if I were to tell you that the above assumptions are just outdated misconceptions?

Do you know that the EC sector has undergone huge transformations over the past 6 years? Or that preschool educators aren’t really the nannies that they are perceived to be?

We have done a little digging and found these 6 differences in the Early Childhood sector between 6 years ago and now.

1. Early Childhood Sector

The EC sector wasn’t as well-organised as it is now. In the past, various ministries and agencies worked together to oversee the preschool sector.

But all that changed in 2013.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was formed in April 2013, to regulate and develop the EC sector.

A harmonised legislation for childcare centres and kindergartens was introduced in 2017, which underscores the national importance of quality early childhood development.

Thanks to that, the sector is now more structured than ever to provide childcare and kindergarten operators with the same regulatory framework; educators with higher professional standing; and parents with better peace of mind – as there is a greater assurance of quality across all preschools!

2. Career Progression

Back then, people didn’t want to venture into the EC sector. We mostly heard about the seemingly limited career progression and back-breaking work of educators.

But with the government’s efforts to uplift the professionalism of the sector, things are looking up.

Image: ECDA

To start off, the SkillsFuture Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) outlines the three main career tracks in the EC sector:

  • Leader track
  • Teacher track
  • Educarer track

This means that you can progress along the educarer or teacher route, and even become a leader in the sector, regardless of your starting point.

Things are pretty flexible in the industry as you can switch between routes at every stage of your career. Provided you undergo the necessary EC training, of course.

The Early Childhood sector is now seen as another up and coming industry, offering rewarding career pathways. Not just for fresh grads, but for people looking to change their careers too.

There are more PMETs jumping ship to early childhood, including people who were once dissuaded from pursuing an EC career by their parents, but now find themselves having a second chance to do what they love.

Furthermore, there are programmes and schemes to support interested individuals to pursue an  EC career at different levels.

3. Professional Development Opportunities

Okay, so we’ve covered that unlike 6 years ago, early childhood professionals are now able to progress up the ladder.

Saying that you have a way is one thing, but do you have the opportunity?

Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to present you the various ways you can shine in the Early Childhood sector like a star.

Professional Development Programmes

Already working in the early childhood sector and wondering how you can improve your career progression? Feel like you’re ready to move on to the next step?

Well, one of the first steps to move up the ladder is to improve your skills by going for these professional courses below.

There are three types of Professional Development Programmes (PDP) available:

The PDP programmes are 180-hour courses spread over three years. These courses incorporate both theory and practical to help early childhood professionals conduct their work.

The best part?

PDP participants will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to take on larger job roles and earn up to $12,000 cash award for teachers and educarers, and up to $15,000 for leaders.

4. Diverse Teaching Experience

Image: Far Eastern Kindergarten Instagram

EC educators aren’t just staying in the classroom anymore.

With a growing emphasis on outdoor learning, educators and parents can now take learning outdoors, which is critical for holistic early childhood development.

Outdoor learning can take place in places such as parks, museums, libraries, supermarkets and other places in the neighbourhood which can offer a wide spectrum of enriching experience for the children.

Besides learning science, maths, history and culture, the children can develop their communication skills and expand their vocabulary.

Community partnerships with agencies such as NParks helps both educators and children learn about the biodiversity of Singapore through organised workshops and tours to places of interests.

Holistic pre-school curriculum

The pre-school curriculum has also expanded to include more diverse ways of teaching.

Image: ECDA

For example, teaching children about nature. Instead of showing slides from the projector, they are out and about, learning and interacting with different types of plants and their uses.

Some centres even have their own eco-gardens, where children get to harvest their own herbs. On top of that, they get to experience first-hand how to use their “fruits of labour” to make simple drinks like lemon balm and mint water.

In short, they don’t just learn the theory, they go through the practice as well.

And it’s not fun just for the kids, the early childhood educators have fun too. After all, as many deskbound office workers would tell you, their favourite work activities include them going out of the office.

And what could be more rewarding than nurturing children’s sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them?

5. Use of Technology

We’re now living in the 21st century. Heck, we even have flying taxis running in some parts of Singapore now.

Image: Volocopter

With that said, how can it not be deployed in the Early Childhood sector, right?

Today, more than 400 pre-schools have adopted a package of IT solutions within their centres to streamline administrative duties and daily processes.

Less time doing the tedious work and more doing what you love: interacting and teaching the kids!

And it’s not just teachers cheering at the IT solutions.

Image: Far Eastern Kindergarten

Parents are also able to share the joy of using technology, as it makes it easier for educators to document and share their children’s progress with them.

6. More Competitive Salaries

Now, to the crux of the matter: passion and love may make you happier, but it doesn’t feed you.

Since the consolidation of national efforts to the EC sector, you can see a marked increase in the salaries of early childhood educators.

In fact, starting salaries have increased by as much as 20% over the past 6 years.

Which is kind of expected because, well, with better training and better qualifications…where else would it go but up?

Plus, with so many professional development and training opportunities for EC educators, you can rest assured that as you work through the years, your salary won’t remain at the same level.

In Conclusion

Children’s daily interactions with the EC educators and other children are instrumental in shaping their social, emotional and physical development, especially in the early years.

As a young child’s first teacher in school, the role of preschool teachers is most certainly more than that of a caregiver. It takes a big heart, passion and professional skills to give every young child a good start in life.

So if you would like to venture into something different, something more meaningful and fulfilling, this might just be the field you’re looking for.

Shape Our Tomorrow Career Fair for Early Childhood Care & Education

If you’re really interested in finding out more about the EC sector and whether it’s suitable for you, don’t just research on the internet.

You can actually register now and make your way down to the “Shape Our Tomorrow Career Fair for Early Childhood Care & Education” happening on 16 & 17 August 2019 to speak to professionals in the sector, people who have been there, done that and are still doing it.

Click here to see how it’s not just work when you work with children!

  • Where: Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre
  • When: 16 & 17 August 2019, 10am – 7pm
  • Register at: go.gov.sg/ecce2019

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com and written in collaboration with the Early Childhood Development Agency.