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Sharifah Mastura Syed Daud – Winner, Promising Early Childhood Educarer
Always putting a child’s needs first
Drawn to the interactions with children, Sharifah Mastura Syed Daud decided to join the preschool sector as a trainee teacher in 2013. Before that, she was a flight attendant for 12 years in Brunei, and then a homemaker at Abu Dhabi for seven years.
Whenever Sharifah visited home from Brunei, she would gather her five nieces and entertain them with activities, such as taking them to playgrounds. When she moved to Abu Dhabi after she got married and had a son, she took her son to various activities such as pony riding, music, arts and soccer classes. She also explored the beaches with other mothers and children twice a week.
“I just love being around children. My late mum always said that I would make a good teacher, but I didn’t think much of it then,” she said.
When Sharifah moved back to Singapore to enrol her five-year-old son in a local preschool in 2012, she decided to apply for a teaching position at My First Skool (MFS) at Parkway Parade with encouragement from her husband and family members. She was successful in getting the role, and she started teaching in 2013.
Child first, always
Driven by the philosophy that every child is a unique individual, Sharifah aims to develop each child’s respective strengths, interests, and knowledge.
“The beginning of a child’s preschool journey is an important experience for the little one. Thus, I ensure that the young children under my care are able to smoothly transition from home to school by partnering with their families, including getting to know the children’s needs, preferences and habits.”
Sharifah also respects children and places their needs first. For example, she greets every child by his or her name during arrival, and encourages children to acknowledge their names by building a routine of clapping hands once they hear their names. She also speaks to children at their level and encourages their attempts through positive affirmations.
She believes that routines make the best opportunities for meaningful interactions between an educarer and a child. Thus, when she changes the diaper of a child, she would sing the child’s favorite song, and seek permission from the child before removing his or her diaper. To help children feel safe and secure at school, Sharifah also created a ‘Quiet Corner’ in her class filled with soft cushions, books and feelings charts.
“I place emphasis on providing young children with choices, responsibilities, and opportunities to initiate their own learning in small groups. With meaningful observations and assessments, I gain insights into the developmental and skill levels of each individual child. I would also take time to understand each child’s needs, body language and facial expression, in order to be able to respond better to each individual child through our daily interactions,” said Sharifah.
Close partnership with families
Sharifah believes parents are a child’s first teachers, and she regularly involves them in the preschool curriculum and centre activities from the child’s first day of school.
“Family plays an important role in a child’s development and learning. Observing what goes on first hand in class, and participating in activities helps a parent understand what the child experiences in a school day,” she said.
“Based on my experience, it is not only the child who experiences anxiety when embarking on the preschool journey; in some instances, the child’s parents also face anxiety. Therefore, I think it is important for educarers to lend a listening ear and a helping hand to support parents embarking on the learning journey with their child for the first time.”
In 2016, Sharifah taught a child who experienced learning difficulties. His parents similarly expressed their concern. She then set aside time every day to work with the child, focusing on colour recognition first. Sharifah worked closely with her class partner to plan various activities to support the boy’s development. At the end of the semester, the boy could recognise all the colours introduced for the year, which in turn boosted his self-esteem.
Leading by example
Since joining MFS in 2013, Sharifah has progressed from being a trainee teacher to a lead teacher who heads the educare team.
She frequently shares activities and strategies from her classes to guide other teachers, trainee teachers and students on attachment at the centre. One of the trainee teachers whom Sharifah used to mentor is also now a teacher at the same centre.
“Sharifah’s drive for continuous growth and positive energy has inspired a learning culture among the teachers. Her passion and love for children has shaped her into a positive role model who continues to inspire many young teachers at the centre and within the organisation. She is poised to do well in her role and continue to make positive contributions to the early childhood care and education industry,” said Sabirah Binte Mohamed Idris, Principal at MFS Parkway Parade.
For her practice in always placing a child’s needs first, and for her proactive partnership with parents in developing a child holistically, Sharifah has been conferred the Promising Early Childhood Educarer award by the Early Childhood Development Agency in 2021.