In line with the government’s effort to further strengthen the professional development of EC educators, including promoting inclusiveness in the classroom, KLC lecturers delivered two “live” virtual workshops on Diversity and Inclusiveness at the Early Childhood Conference 2021 on 14 & 15 October.

The two workshops were designed to help better prepare Early Years and Preschool Educators for a more significant role in promoting inclusiveness in our preschool classrooms to support the children’s social-emotional, language and cognitive development.

Each of the two sessions were attended by about 50 educators, as well as  ECDA officers and NIEC trainers.

The first workshop on “Embrace Diversity:  A Place to Begin” held on 14 October was presented by Ms Irene Ho and Ms Rohaidah Binte Ayob, lecturers with KLC. Both are Master degree holders and each have some 20 years of experience in the EC sector.

It emphasised the importance of helping  all children understand their differences and encourage them to feel good about who they are, where they fit in the world and to appreciate the diversity in others. Participants were encouraged to create opportunities for children to interact and make friends with others who are different from them and learn from role models. The lecturers also shared how careful selection of appropriate books, pictures, toys and games can help to show inclusiveness, especially activities involving people of different races, ages, genders and abilities.

The workshop on “Chinese Language Teaching in the Inclusive Classroom in Singapore” was delivered on 15 October by Dr Chen Shi, Vice Principal (Chinese Programmes) and Mr Ling Jian, Head of Chinese Language Learning.

Participants in this Chinese language workshop were introduced to the role of Chinese teachers in integrated education, where those with special needs are included in preschool learning. They learned about the concept and the Six Principles of Inclusive Education, the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) programme and how to maximise integration into the mainstream environment.

To help special needs children become curious, active and capable mother tongue learners, the participants were specifically guided on understanding their learning difficulties and the strategies to adopt. The sharing of a case study provided  insights on how to design and implement a Chinese language learning plan for such children.

KLC has been involved in the development of special needs teaching for many years. The presentation of these two topics at the conference this year is highly significant as the needs of early years and preschool education continue to evolve.

At the opening ceremony for the EC conference programme  on 16 October 2021, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Masagos Zulkifli announced new initiatives to support early childhood (EC) educators including the launch of the revised the Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education that was introduced in 2016. The revised framework includes new career tracks for Learning Support Educators (LSEds) and Early Intervention (EI) educators “to encourage greater porosity between the career pathways for Early Childhood and Early Intervention educators as part of our ongoing effort to advance inclusion in preschools”.

The government had earlier in March 2021 announced that “ECDA would work towards every preschool appointing one of its staff as an Inclusion Coordinator (ICO) from the second half of 2023. The ICO will partner early childhood educators to identify children with potential developmental needs for early assessment”.

The EC Conference is an annual event organised by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and includes a Career Fair as part of its activities.