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Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services


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Title: Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood Education Services

Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood
Education Services
Supporting Male Carers in Early Childhood
Education Services Dr Geoff Bridgman, Unitec
ECE Waitakere Presentation, October 9th, 2012,
Aim of the research
  • Pre-school children need access to quality male
  • 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.

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

Survey Participants
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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

  • Parents may ask questions ..... they might be
  • 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
  • some parents ... feel uncomfortable around
    men changing nappies
  • we would feel comfortable placing a male
    teaching initially in the older room not on
  • we did have two families pull their children
    from our care
  • three families said they would withdraw their
    child.if the male was employed.

Volunteer interests, skills, tasks or roles 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
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Whats 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 mens 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.

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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

Male volunteers are male carers so what
correlates with male volunteers?
total volunteers 0.45 plt0.01
male recruitment difficulty noted 0.39 plt0.01
pictures of male carers interacting with children 0.34 plt0.05
community engagement 0.34 plt0.05
notices of events and volunteer roles of interest to male carers on notice boards 0.33 plt0.05
Ideas of running male carer socials -0.31 plt0.05
valuing the male role model -0.39 plt0.01
having a focus gender neutrality -0.42 plt0.01
being ECE centre (not a kindy, etc) -0.43 plt0.01
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 home5) Attract males into ECE
teachingPut up lots of pictures of male carers
interacting with pre-school childrenAsk,
encourage and insist that male carers spend some
time each month interacting with the children at
the centre
Why is VFW interested?
  • The male contribution to domestic violence in New
    Zealand is very high
  • High father engagement with their childrens
    development in the pre-school years lowers levels
    of family violence, aggression, divorce, and
    increases educational achievement, and social
  • Participation rates of men as staff in Early
    Childhood Education are very low

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 Toddlers Day Out, Violence
    Free Begins with Me, Our Amazing Place

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
  • 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?