3 early childhood experts share how they teach based on children’s needs

Featuring Ms N. Pushpavalli, ECDA Fellow and Principal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten; Dr Geraldine Teo-Zuzarte, ECDA Fellow and Centre Director of The Caterpillar’s Cove Child Development and Study Centre; and Ms N. Thamarai, ECDA Fellow and Cluster Quality Manger of My First Skool.


Everyone knows that children’s growing up years play a crucial role in their development – but how do we make sure our teaching methods adequately address their needs?

One such way would be to put ourselves in the shoes of young children and try to see the world as they would. This would help us craft teaching methods that focuses on their strengths and enhances their holistic development.

Such child-centered teaching methods will then be better able to help children achieve their full potential.

Here are three tips on customizing teaching pedagogies to the needs of young children:

  1. Innovation requires us to constantly question why we do what we do.”

ECDA 2,1Ms N. Pushpavalli, ECDA Fellow and Principal of Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten, believes that it is important for teachers to constantly reflect on the children’s curriculum and activities.

This would then create a culture of innovation that would aid teachers’ individual professional growth, while allowing them to find the best ways for their children to learn.

That is why she decided to move from having show-and-tell in the classroom to a concept called “My Space” – where children were given a space of their own much like an “offline blog” – when she realised that the former allowed for little engagement and that the children were reproducing memorised scripts.

  1. “One of the unique features of Learning Stories is the focus on the strengths of each child rather than deficits or what the child cannot do. Over time, this practice positively changes how educators relate to the child.”

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For Dr Geraldine Teo-Zuzarte, ECDA Fellow and Centre Director of The Caterpillar’s Cove Child Development and Study Centre, creating a positive, conducive and meaningful environment for children is key to their development.

One such way is through Learning Stories – a compilation of observations on their growth – that would not only provide an opportunity for dialogue and discussion on the holistic development of the child, but also allow educators to be more reflective and collaborative.

“Learning is a co-construction between the learner and the teacher; each has something to offer and bring to the learning context,” she adds.

  1. “Just think, how do I usually talk or treat an older child, or even an adult? Then treat the young children in the same way.”

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Constant innovation and a system that encourages reflection would then allow for quality standards and continuous professional improvement – something that Ms N. Thamarai, ECDA Fellow and Cluster Quality Manger of My First Skool, advocates for.

One way to ensure quality standards would be to observe the 3 ‘R’s of teaching young children – respect, respond and reciprocate.

Teaching children from young the very values that we adults hold highly ourselves would set an example for them to follow as they grow.

“With the 3 ‘R’s, our children will grow into confident and secure individuals.  Such independence and emotional security, puts them in good stead for the next stage of their development. It is normal to feel anxious about a child’s development. Remember – it is not about the outcomes, but building a fulfilling personal experience during a child’s early years that matters,” said Ms Thamarai.

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About ECDA Fellows

The ECDA Fellows are a select group of exemplary early childhood professionals with high levels of leadership and professional expertise. The sector as a whole benefit from their extensive experience and deep expertise. The ECDA Fellows work closely with ECDA to train and mentor other early childhood professionals.  They will also develop sector-wide resources for professional development, curriculum leadership and sector partnerships.