Kindergarten teachers are the teachers most people will remember for the rest of their lives. Their role of teaching children the most basic skills and principles in life makes them some of the most important people in a child’s growth.
In Jakarta, therefore, the city administration gives rewards each year to outstanding teachers to appreciate their hard work.
The awards were given by Happy Farida, wife of Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat and advisor to the Jakarta Joint Organization of Indonesian Kindergartens (GOPTKI). The awards are given annually to three outstanding kindergarten teachers. The teachers are selected from each district through written tests, interviews, achievements and observations during class.
Although students only spend one or two years in kindergarten, the teachers take their work of helping the children grow seriously.
For example, 50-year-old Elita Agustin said that being a kindergarten teacher had been her dream since she was a child. Elita, a teacher at Cilacap Public Kindergarten in Menteng, Central Jakarta, was one of the three teachers given a reward for her outstanding performance.
“I love children and I love playing and interacting with them, so since I was a child, I had decided that I would be a kindergarten teacher to make a living,” Elita told The Jakarta Post over the phone.
Elita, who has been a kindergarten teacher since 1986, said that kindergarten teachers played an important role in shaping a child’s habits and personality.
She said that although her job mostly consisted of playing with her students, being a kindergarten teacher was not always fun and games.
“Kindergarten is a type of groundbreaking for children to begin education. All fundamentals in life are taught in kindergarten. What kind of character they grow up to be depends on the education they receive in kindergarten,” she said.
Elita, who lives in Bekasi, said that she was surprised when the Education Agency informed her that she had been chosen as one of the outstanding teachers in Jakarta. “I thought that the Education Agency made a mistake,” she joked.
Elita said that the most important qualities a kindergarten teacher should have were creativity, patience and a caring personality. “All students are different, but we must care for all of them like they were our own children. We must be creative in teaching them and we must be patient while doing so,” she said.
Meanwhile, 53-year-old Djie Mie Fen, a teacher at private kindergarten IPEKA Kristen in Sunter, North Jakarta, said that the most difficult obstacle for a kindergarten teacher was competing with technology. Djie, who has been a teacher since 1983, was chosen by the city administration to represent Jakarta in an upcoming national teachers’ meeting at the State Palace.
“Many of my students are smart enough to use tablets and smartphones; they often use their parents’. I have to find a way to be more fun and educational than tablets and smartphones so that they can learn in class,” Djie said.
She said that one of her most important principles in teaching kindergarten was giving the students tough love. “For example, if they do something wrong, then I will gently scold them and teach them what is right and wrong,” Djie said.
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