“While noting that there has been much discussion recently on the quality of preschool education, she said considerable effort has been made and resources set aside over the last few years to train teachers and improve the quality of childcare” (Moves To Boost Standard Of Preschool Teachers, Miss Janice Tai).
The news report “Moves To Boost Standard Of Preschool Teachers” (July 28, 2012) by Miss Janice Tan: there is a growing awareness of the shortcomings within the preschool education sector in Singapore, and that more could be done to raise standards on different dimensions. The administration has acknowledged these concerns, and has been increasingly forthcoming with assorted recommendations for corresponding policy changes. Nevertheless, while bureaucrats have been rolling out accreditation benchmarks, raising educator qualifications, encouraging quality curriculum et cetera, I believe that they have – unfortunately – missed out one crucial element in the equation: the parents.
These objectives can be achieved in tandem, primarily because children spend most of their formative years in the classroom and within the household. It is important for parents to complement the academic-scholastic knowledge or other relevant skills imparted through respective pedagogies at home. This form of constructive synergy between home and school would only benefit the kid. Furthermore, if parents are more cognisant of the nuances and elements within a preschool education framework, they would become more confident about assisting the teachers, and to also take ownership of their child’s education.
The Parental Factor
In the bigger picture, when parents are more informed and knowledgeable, their expectations and demands – logical ones, of course – could indirectly pressure preschools to raise their standards. Their involvement and participation will yield positive outcomes, and there are a few ways in which this can be facilitate in and outside of school.
- Sharing communities could be established for parents to discuss respective methodologies adopted to facilitate teaching-learning processes within the households. With time, these groups could share anything and everything, from reading regimes to out-of-school activities. Special fieldtrips can be organised for the young ones in regular intervals.
- The Ministry of Education (MOE) could consider the organisation of conferences or seminars, to provide parents will more information on the significance of preschool education. Preschool experts could be engaged to provide professional perspectives on how parents can guide and support their children through dedicated Internet platforms. Additional resources, such as reading lists and enrichment worksheets, could be shared through targeted websites, to help these young schoolchildren learn and develop.
- With appropriate resources and manpower, I fancy the idea of having agencies introduce new initiatives for preschoolers and their parents, or to promote existing activities. For instance, community centres have a range of courses; the National Library Board (NLB) can publicise its reading programmes and customise reading lists; the National Heritage Board (NHB) can develop a preschool-friendly version of an “Amazing Race”, which would bring families across the multitude of educational museums or exhibitions in Singapore.
In the long term, the adoption of these aforementioned proposals would establish a healthy culture of valuable teacher-parent partnerships, and this notion of cooperation could even extend to the primary schools and beyond. “Us” versus “them” mentalities should not persist, as parents are progressively brought into the fold in the future.