Give pre-school teachers breaks to provide a safer environment for children: S'pore expert

SINGAPORE - Giving pre-school teachers a 15-minute break every four hours could help to provide a safer environment for children, an early childhood expert said on Monday.

Dr Lily Wong was speaking at a workshop aimed at improving pre-school safety, which came a month after a baby was allegedly scalded by hot coffee at a PAP Community Foundation Little Wings childcare centre.

Dr Wong said such regular breaks are common for teachers at pre-schools in the United States and Australia.

She added: "If they are rested, they are refreshed and they can better take care of the children."

The educational psychologist also recommended that the Spark quality certification be widened to include more criteria on staff welfare and the "human environment". It now focuses mainly on the physical environment of pre-schools and areas such as curriculum and staff management.

The executive director of Advent Links-SAUC Education Centre was speaking to about 100 pre-school operators, teachers and parents at a two-hour workshop at Orchard Hotel.

It was the first such workshop organised by the Association of Early Childhood and Training Services (Assets), where Dr Wong is head of education research.

As well as last month's incident, a three-year-old boy was alleged to have been abused by his NTUC My First Skool teacher in July.

"We recognise the recent safety lapses have created much concern," said Assets chairman T. Chandroo. "Assets wants to help bring together experts to discuss and provide some solutions to respond to these concerns."

The association, established in September last year, has 16 pre-school businesses; its members are responsible for more than a third of pre-school centres here.

Dr Chandroo, also chairman of the Modern Montessori International Group, said more seminars on innovation and best practices will be organised in the coming months.

The association is also looking into a "central busing scheme" to cater for children living in remote areas.

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