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The Crucial Role of Empathy in Early Childhood Education

3 min read

In the fast-paced world of today, where news travels at the speed of light, two alarming incidents have recently surfaced, shedding light on the importance of empathy in pre-school and toddler education. In 2023, two major incidents involving injuries to toddlers occurred, both attributed to the actions of their pre-school teachers. These incidents underscore the critical need for a more thoughtful and empathetic approach in early childhood education.

The impact of the teacher’s empathetic nature becomes evident in the daily interactions between teachers and toddlers. Early childhood educators with a strong empathy trait are more likely to create a supportive and caring atmosphere, crucial for the holistic development of young minds. Conversely, pre-schools that hire teachers with a more left-brained approach may inadvertently demand strict adherence to rules and routines that toddlers are ill-equipped to understand.

Personal experiences often provide the most compelling insights. In my own journey as a parent, I encountered the stark contrast between pre-school environments. The first pre-school, initially staffed with nurturing and empathetic teachers, unfortunately saw those educators depart. Their replacements, armed with a more left-brained approach, resorted to punitive measures when toddlers failed to comply with rigid rules. Unsettled by this harsh environment, we decided to withdraw our child from the school.

The second pre-school, with a similar story, left us concerned about the lack of empathy among the staff. The search for a suitable environment led us to the third school, where our initial impression was overwhelmingly positive. The collection of teachers demonstrated a genuine empathy that was palpable. On the first day, there was no rush; instead, our child received an abundance of hugs and assurance. The empathetic behaviors of the teachers at this pre-school allowed our child to thrive, growing into a confident and happy individual. Every day, she came home with a smile, a stark contrast to our previous experiences.

These personal encounters emphasize the significance of hiring educators with empathy in early childhood education. The nurturing environment created by empathetic teachers not only facilitates a child’s emotional and social growth but also sets the foundation for a positive and joyful learning experience. 

Recognizing the significance of hiring teachers with a genuine empathy trait, psychometric assessments like #IDENTI3 have emerged as valuable tools for improving the quality of staff in pre-schools. The use of such #assessments ensures that educators possess the essential quality of empathy, fostering a nurturing environment for young children (right job-fit!).

In conclusion, the incidents reported in the news and my own experiences highlight the urgent need for pre-schools to prioritize the hiring of teachers with empathy, as it is a key factor in shaping the future of our youngest learners.


About the Author

Jace Tan is a Corporate Trainer who has trained and coached more than 15,000 people in his 20 years career. He has conducted the largest psychometric workforce study in Singapore. His clients consist of small and medium enterprises and Fortune 500 companies. His books, “What’s your Blind Spot’, ‘The Genius Matrix’ and ‘Don’t Marry Yet’ are designed to help people overcome their life’s challenges.

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