Are Men Welcome in Early Childhood Education?

LNP Noah

I hire men to work at my preschool. Correction, since I opened six years ago, I have hired one (little) man, my fourteen year old son Noah. The infrequence of hiring men has not been a conscious or purposeful choice.  Men simply do not frequently apply.

Noah grew up with preschoolers in our home.  At the age of seven, he dubbed himself the official ambassador of new students, making sure they felt welcome and like they had a friend from the moment they arrived. He has picked up on a lot over the years, he knows the importance of being kind and patient, and giving the students limits for their health and safety.  He assists the other teachers, and is an all-around asset to our program.

I have had parents ask me in the past “You don’t have any men on your staff do you?”

We don’t question a male kindergarten teacher, so why is there a double standard for males in pre-education in the state of South Dakota?  Does my son love an industry in which he will not be welcome? Of course, he can always work for mom, but why should his options be limited?

There are men and boys in early childhood education in South Dakota.  There are a small handful at large centers in Rapid City and other towns.  It would be illegal for anyone to admit that they try to avoid hiring men (and also very wrong).  There is also a small group of male center directors. I can name two.

The disproportion of males and females in education is nothing new.  Taken from the National Center for Education Statistics in 2012, public schools in South Dakota have 23% male teachers, and 77% female.  This is close to the national average for male to female teachers.  The difference in early childhood education is far greater. Out of all of the courses I have instructed for early childhood educators, I have had only one male in class twice.  This is compared with hundreds and hundreds of women.

There are several factors causing the lack of men in our field.  Many of them are based on misconceptions and biases.  Early childhood educators need to support and advocate for each other.  Equally important, men must be supported and welcomed to our field.  Just as our field can be judged as unprofessional, men are being unfairly categorized as unfit to be in the early childhood education classroom.

Battle Misconceptions of Men in Early Childhood Education

Men can be pivotal role models for the children in our care: Positive male role models are important to all students.  It creates a healthy balanced classroom culture to provide diversity (this extends to cultural diversity as well).

 Inclusion of qualified men will create more equality in our field, and may lead to increased recognition of our profession and increase pay. Any profession that shows a balance of males and females is more revered and progressive.  Early childhood educators push to break away from the label of “babysitter”, but then some support the idea that it is “women’s work.”  This is a bizarre double standard.

Men undergo all of the same background checks: Male teachers complete all of the same training and background checks.  To assume children will not suffer physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a female instructor based simply on gender is naive and dangerous.  All staff should be screened and then supervised to ensure the safety of students.

I encourage you to welcome men to education.  Whether you are in early childhood education, or are a member of the community, support and encouragement are key to growth.  It is unnecessary to point out, the “token male” in the room.  That is just as inappropriate as men pointing out the only woman in the room, or pointing out anyone’s racial or religious background.  Anytime we try to support others by saying, “I’m so glad to have one of your kind here.” it is counterproductive and unsupportive.  It should always be, “I am so glad you are here.” You as in, an individual person with skills, talents, and ideas to bring to the table.

Thank you for reading Early Education Plantation.  Did you know this blog is read locally, regionally, and internationally?  Hello Wisconsin, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, California, Ireland, Germany, and England!  Believe it or not, educators from all over the world are interested in what we have going on out here in South Dakota. If you have anything to add to the conversation, you can contact me here, or at educationplantation@gmail.com

Please continue sharing: Comment, connect, cultivate change!

 

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3 thoughts on “Are Men Welcome in Early Childhood Education?

  1. I would love to see more men in early childhood education. I have worked with a few who were fantastic, but they are looked at a little differently by parents at first out of fear because of the biased and media. They are great role models for the children and can bring in a different perspective as well. My 13 year old son wants to work in your Mentor program next year. I have watched him and your son Noah with small children and they are fantastic.

    I don’t understand why some people think it is ok for a man to be a school teacher, but get looked at strangely when they want to work with the younger children. I will admit that I worry about my children, and at first it made me leary too, but as I have had more children and worked in early childhood education, I have really come to an understanding that we do need more men in the field and that many of my fears and concerns were big misconceptions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Noah has been an asset to the program this summer. the children enjoyed having him as a teacher and he is a good male role model for all the younger boys. I have enjoyed working with Noah and hope he chooses to stay with the program for along time.
    I have worked with a few men in this field most of them were very competent and great team members. children like have a male teachers and I think having more men in this profession would be an asset.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Happy New Year! | Early education plantation

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