When you and your mother work in the same industry, your relationship grows stronger, as educator Murni Adlina Abdul Malek found out. Ms Murni teaches at PCF Sparkletots @ Pasir Ris East Blk 426 while her mother, Mrs Mardiana Osman, 54, is an assistant teacher at PCF Sparkletots @ Changi-Simei Blk 233.

To Ms Murni, 22, the best part of being in the same line as her mother is being able to share a common under-standing of the joys and the challenges of the job.

Ms Murni initially wanted to pursue a veterinary technology course after her O levels. However, hearing her mother recount interesting stories of work led her to consider joining the pre-school sector too. 

“Her stories were interesting and different. She is always so happy whenever she talks about the children,” says Ms Murni.

She went on to pursue a Diploma in Early Childhood Studies at Temasek Polytechnic and, in 2018, joined PCF Sparkletots, where she is form teacher of a Nursery 1 class.

Q. What is it like for mother and daughter to work together in the same field?

MS MURNI: Not many people have the opportunity to share such a special bond with their parents. We now better understand each other and the challenges we face at work. My mother also gives me moral support and advice when I need it.

MRS MARDIANA: We’re able to exchange ideas for our classes and discuss strategies on how to better facilitate the children’s learning. I also learnt from my daughter how to handle common classroom problems such as getting shy children to participate during group activity time.

Q. How have you had to adapt your teaching methods since the pandemic hit?

MS MURNI: During the circuit breaker, I created a learning toolkit for parents to teach their children at home and parents said they enjoyed using it.

I rarely use technology in my classroom as I strongly believe in face-to-face interaction, but we held our National Day celebrations via Microsoft Teams. It was heartening to see the children excitedly singing and dancing with their friends and teachers.

MRS MARDIANA: During the circuit breaker, I continued to go to work as our pre-school remained open to parents who are essential service workers, while my daughter worked from home. We would chat about what happened with me at work and her experiences of working from home. It was refreshing to hear her stories of how lessons can be carried out in a different manner.

I had to pick up new digital skills to communicate with my colleagues and assist them through video conferencing. When school resumed, a challenge was helping the children understand why they need to keep 1m apart as they’re at the age where they’re learning to socialise. To overcome this, I try to put the same type of toys into two different containers. This allows the children to engage in parallel play in their own space.

Q. What do you think makes a good early childhood educator?

MS MURNI: A pre-school teacher has to be patient and flexible as sometimes, a lesson may not go as planned. A teacher should also stay true to her values and be open-minded at the same time.