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Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services.

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services."— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services

2 Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services Dr Geoff Bridgman, Unitec ECE Waitakere Presentation, October 9 th, 2012, Henderson

3 Pre-school children need access to quality male caring Male carers (dads, etc) need to learn more about how to relate their preschoolers ECE services can help both of these things to happen, so our Aim is: To identify the ways in which Early Childhood Education (ECE) services engage with their male clients (the “male carers”) of the children in their services.

4 ECE Services Survey Demographic questions – carers, children, staff, volunteers Activities and types of engagement and communication Resources, issues of safety Open ended questions around male carer engagement

5 Survey Participants



8 Services generally want male staff “children absolutely love [male students]” “male teachers are fantastic for the children, dads and families.” “men play a major role in the learning and caring of our children” “they are a role model for all children” “the response from the older children in having him [the centre owner] around is profound” “the older boys thrive by having a male in the centre”

9 But.... “Parents may ask questions..... they might be surprised” “[They] may question the role a male teacher may play in caring for their child” “for parents to be supportive, we need to sell that - not all men are the same” “suspicion.. due to paedophilia case in the 1980‘s” “some [parents]... feel uncomfortable [around men] changing nappies” “we would feel comfortable placing a male teaching initially in the older room [not on nappies]” “we did have two families pull their children from our care” “three families said they would withdraw their child.[if the male was employed].”

10 Volunteer interests, skills, tasks or roles Interest, skill task or role % of services Property maintenance 57% Teaching: music, languages, talks and demonstrating arts and crafts 43% Quiet play interaction: reading stories, fantasy play, assisting children 33% Committee, elder 27% Secretarial, treasurer/General support 17% Trips 10% Rough and tumble play/Cooking/Animal Care 7% Male role model/Maori expertise/Library/ Fundraising 3%



13 What’s hard work and family time constraints “split families”, mothers coming while Dad is “looking after the children“; {ECE is} ”mother' dominated” - men are shut out by their partners. One centre “had very little response [for a men’s evening] - most the men were not even asked about this evening; their partners had made the decision that they would not be interested.”. discomfort, embarrassment, and shyness of male carers “feeling embarrassed at the start” because “they are unsure as to what they can do”, worry that “no other dads will be there [as they] don't want to be the only male amongst all the females...[and] look soft.”




17 Ideas for improvement 38% made no comment or felt that no change was needed: “this is not an issue for many Centres. We welcome male carers equally as female carers.” 62% did want to see some changes made. 12% felt unsure as to how 50% had ideas such as : newsletters, posters, books and readings for engaging and informing male carers, social events for male engagement, outings (field trips), gatherings, dads or granddads morning tea or sharing their skills with children, or working on a project with the children e.g. a building project or the garden. 12% said the survey had motivated them to look what they could do: “Just doing the survey has given me some ideas about surveying our male Playcentre members to see if we could put a male perspective into our newsletter. Also, do they need some information on male roles in the Playcentre?”

18 Male volunteers are male carers – so what correlates with male volunteers? total volunteers 0.45p<0.01 male recruitment difficulty noted 0.39p<0.01 pictures of male carers interacting with children 0.34p<0.05 community engagement 0.34p<0.05 notices of events and volunteer roles of interest to male carers on notice boards 0.33p<0.05 Ideas of running male carer socials -0.31p<0.05 valuing the male role model -0.39p<0.01 having a focus gender neutrality -0.42p<0.01 being ECE centre (not a kindy, etc) -0.43p<0.01

19 Two very simple strategies to 1) Make ECE services more male friendly, 2) Improve the quality of child experience in ECE services, 3) Improve the parenting skills of male carers, 4) Improve the quality of life for pre-school children at home 5) Attract males into ECE teaching Put up lots of pictures of male carers interacting with pre- school children Ask, encourage and insist that male carers spend some time each month interacting with the children at the centre

20 Why is VFW interested? The male contribution to domestic violence in New Zealand is very high High father engagement with their children’s development in the pre-school years lowers levels of family violence, aggression, divorce, and increases educational achievement, and social competence Participation rates of men as staff in Early Childhood Education are very low

21 Violence Free Waitakere Focus on Fathering programme – providing raising awareness of the male parenting role and creating supportive interventions Awareness raising – FoF week, Westie Dads in Action Photographic exhibition in a large mall of dads and kids, Dads Day Out Interventions – What did you do at work today Dad? ECE project Related projects: Toddler’s Day Out, Violence Free Begins with Me, Our Amazing Place

22 Engaging Men – 2009 EC-MENz ideas Does the centre celebrate the role of men in the lives of young children? Does your centre display pictures of men in early childhood both as fathers and teachers? Does management consult with male employees over policy /pedagogy such as “touch”, “physicality of play”, and what constitutes “authentic learning”? Does management consult with male employees over the “learning environment” in terms of learning preferences and experiences e.g. construction, technology and emphasis on outdoors? Does management expect the same of all employees in the teacher role such as toileting, changing, application of sunscreen, opening and the closing of centre and comforting children? Is there an openness to being accountable to one another for gender limitations imposed upon each other? Do we treat men and women the same in terms of expectations of behaviour including the objectification of the opposite sex? Does our policy make specific reference to both male and female teachers so that prospective parents expect male participation?

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