Updated: Oct 6
Lim Ruixuan Richelle, Little Seeds Preschool (Sonshine) Richelle is a child who is compassionate and known for taking initiative. She befriended Jamie* and Owen* and accepted them for who they are, in spite of their attention and behavioral issues and autism respectively.
When Jamie first joined our school this year, Richelle would advise her on the classroom routine, rules, and invite her to have play with her and her other friends. She would also provide support to Owen by guiding him back to his seat whenever he walks around the class and seemingly forgets that it was lesson or meal time. She would remind him to ask the teacher for permission if he wishes to do another task or needs a break. Whether it was showing them how to play a learning centre activity, teaching them how to use the scissors, or encouraging them to stay on task while doing their workbook, Richelle was able to win them over and keep them engaged with her compassion and leadership abilities. Once, Richelle saw Owen struggling to tape down a toilet paper roll to a piece of cardboard. She leaned over and asked, “Do you want me to help you? When Owen nodded his head, Richelle replied, “I’m going to hold [the toilet paper roll] and you use [the masking tape] to go around it.” He smiled and said, “Yeah! That’s a good idea!” After the task was done, Richelle praised him saying, “See, you did it!” and gave him a thumbs up sign.
Richelle would take note of Jamie and Owen’s interests – what they spend much of their time doing - and use it as a tool to when them feel a little less scared and stressed when they have difficulties following through on their tasks (e.g. doing their readers, finishing a writing task).
She would say to Jamie during her struggles to regulate, “Try your best okay? When we are done, we can read a book together,” knowing that reading brings Jamie a sense of comfort. She would also offer a hug to Jamie and Owen whenever she notices them tearing up.
She would approach them from the side and pat their heads or hold their hand, before gently moving in for a soft embrace. This helps both children feel seen and understood during their difficult moments, and be motivated to press on, knowing they have a friend cheering them on. It wasn’t long before Jamie and Owen began to look for Richelle for help. An example would be when they were lining up to go for outdoor play. Everyone had found a partner and because it was an odd numbered class (27 children), Jamie was left alone, which led to her feeling upset. Jamie was observed to be looking for Richelle, and Richelle was already gently holding Jamie’s hand, as if she knew how she was feeling. Richelle turned to her then partner and explained in the kindest way that she would pair up with her another time as Jamie was feeling down and would need a friend. “You can let me know if you need a partner okay? I will ask the teacher if I can be your partner,” Richelle told Jamie. She would also say similar things to Owen to help him feel belonged and encourage him to voice out his needs. Richelle often explains to her classmates that Jamie and Owen learn differently from everyone else and that they need to learn to be patient with them. If they did not like what Jamie and Owen were doing, they could always ask the teacher for help. Once, during clean-up time, a boy helped to return a tray of math learning centre materials without knowing that Jamie was still using it. When she saw the boy walking away with the tray, she screamed and raised her hand towards him. Richelle, who was nearby, came over quickly and put her hands on Jamie’s shoulders and asked what happened. She then conveyed to the boy that Jamie was not done using the materials and would like to keep it on her own. The boy nodded his head and passed the tray back to Jamie. Richelle then turned to him and said, “Thank you. She is still learning to use her words.” Richelle is not only considerate and caring to Jamie and Owen, but also inspires her classmates to be more understanding and loving to them through her actions and kind explanations to them in various situations.
*Children's names have been changed to maintain anonymity.