If engagement, warmth, dedication and positive energy are high on your wish list, then look no further than ACG School Jakarta's new Kindergarten teacher Erin Rush. Born and raised in the US, the Early Childhood Education (ECE) specialist moved to Jakarta six years ago and has been inspiring children to become lifelong learners ever since.
In a recent interview, Erin shared her approach to ECE, her thoughts on the importance of building relationships, and her delight with ACG's Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom design that encourages exploration and targets a range of skills and interests.
Erin, tell us about your teaching background.
I began teaching English in 2011 to pursue two of my passions: teaching and travelling. I have taught at schools in the Czech Republic, Thailand, Australia, and Indonesia. However, my ultimate passion lies in ECE, so in 2017, I began focusing my career and studies on teaching early childhood at international schools.
How important is a child's early learning experience?
ECE covers some of the most formative years of a student's learning journey. It's where children learn a plethora of ‘firsts’ and sets the foundation of their knowledge, allowing them to grow into inquisitive and excited learners.
What makes a great kindergarten?
A great kindergarten is a place that's warm and inviting for children of all learning styles. It has many manipulatives, learning materials, books, and toys at its fingertips. As a result, it is a safe space for everyone to maximise their learning while exploring their interests.
What do you enjoy most about teaching young children?
I love their curiosity about the world around them. It is so fulfilling to facilitate their knowledge and watch them explore, learn, and grow every day. Kindergarten is where children learn many skills for the first time, and being a part of that experience is incredibly special.
I also pride myself on developing positive rapport in my classrooms. It's extremely important to build strong relationships with each of my students so that I can learn more about their unique abilities and learning styles and ensure they trust me as their teacher. Once we have that trust and understanding of one another, the possibilities are endless!
Can you explain your educational philosophy?
My teaching methods largely follow the Reggio Emilia approach, which incorporates inquiry learning to facilitate knowledge and curiosity inside and outside the classroom. When children actively participate in their own learning, they can build useful knowledge in a purposeful way.
Plus, it's essential not to underestimate the power of play in kindergarten. Both structured and unstructured play allows young children to develop a love for learning and expand on various skills that form the essential building blocks they need to excel on their educational journey. Furthermore, as educators, we must raise socially responsible students who will positively impact the world in some way.
What do you enjoy most about living in Jakarta?
I actually live in a little town south of Jakarta called Bogor. I've never really been a city girl, so I don't mind the daily commute. I love Bogor because the people are exceptionally friendly, the town is so rich in culture and history, and the weather is a bit cooler, especially during the rainy season.
Where can we find you when you're not at work?
When I was a child, my mom would always tell people that I would either be a teacher or a veterinarian when I grew up. While I became a teacher, I am still incredibly passionate about animal welfare. My husband and I opened a non-profit organisation called CatSnip Bogor, which focuses on spaying and neutering stray cats in impoverished areas. My weekends are happily filled with tending to the animals in our home and community!
If we asked your friends and family to describe you in five words or less, what would they say?
Making the most of life!