PART 7: THE SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTRY OF THE METHODIST WELFARE SERVICES
One of the longest serving staff at D’Joy Children’s Centre, Madam Lee Cheo Kee, cannot imagine herself working with anybody except young children
‘MY ROLE as the playgroup teacher in D’Joy Children’s Centre includes teaching and taking care of the daily routine of our youngest children, like giving baths, feeding, supervising their nap time and toilet breaks.
The playgroup children are aged between two and three years. For most of them, this is the first time they are attending a day care centre. On their first few days here they cry often and ask to go home. They are also very emotional and cling tightly to their parents when the latter send them here in the mornings.
We use many ways to help them settle in, such as to distract them with toys, engage them in stories or introduce them to group play. Each of them also receives a lot of individual attention. Most of the time the toddlers are able to get used to the new environment and the full-day programme within one or two weeks.
When I see the children follow instructions and pick up self-care skills, such as putting their bags in the cubby-holes, drinking from their water bottles or going to the toilet on their own, I am very happy. These are basic things they previously did not know how to do. Seeing how fast they learn is very fulfilling.
Last year a non-Chinese toddler started to attend our playgroup. He did not understand English at all, but eventually picked up the language very well and was able to understand and speak simple Chinese. He loved to sing and was musically inclined. From not knowing the alphabet to singing rhymes was indeed a milestone in his language skills and aesthetic development. This year, he is in the Nursery class. He calls out to me whenever he sees me. It is very gratifying to see how well he has developed.
To be effective child care teachers, we need a lot of patience and a lot of love for the children. We also need to be physically fit to cope with the demanding job. Without these qualities I do not think we can last.
In D’Joy, we need to have a very compassionate heart because many of our children are from low-income families. Our intake for 2008, for example, mostly comes from needy families in the neighbourhood and their fees are heavily subsidised. Many of them have little or no learning support at home. We are here to give them a head start and provide the same quality of care as their full-paying peers.
I love children and that is why I like my job. If I did not like my job I would not be able to stay in D’Joy for so long. The work is demanding. As child care teachers, we need to do daily teaching plans, make our own teaching materials and be responsible for the children’s learning progress in addition to looking after them.
As child care centres operate 12 hours daily, we have to work in shifts with either very early or late hours. This affects our family life in some ways.
I have been in this centre for almost 10 years. I started working with pre-schoolers in Hinghwa Methodist Church in 1988 and when the MWS took over in 1999, I became an assistant supervisor. Working here has helped me to become a more patient and understanding person.
My fellow child care teachers and I work as a team, supporting each other and sharing our experiences and workload. Among the Christian staff, we try to live out our Christian culture daily by saying grace before meals and singing Christian songs.
However, there are days when I feel down and do not feel like going to work. Sometimes I have to ask the Lord for the strength to be able to put this aside because the children need me.
Philippians 4:4-5 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say rejoice!” I am reminded to be glad and thankful that the Lord has given me this job. I will continue to work here for as long as I can because I love the children.’
D’Joy Children’s Centre is a community outreach of the Methodist Welfare Services and Hinghwa Methodist Church. Address: Block 1 Maude Road, #03-30 Singapore 200001 Tel: 6294-9960, Fax: 6294-9597 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The MWS needs your support to continue to assist disadvantaged children and low-income families. In the financial year ended March 31, 2007, some 5,500 at-risk children and youth, families, frail elderly, terminally ill and destitute persons were served monthly by the MWS.