Friday, August 26, 2011

Never Too Young For Emergency Training

A few months ago the news reported that the 3 year old daughter of former NSW Treasurer, Michael Costa called triple zero when her mother was tied up by a home invader.

This got me thinking that it's never too early for children to learn what to do in an emergency. I have predominantly worked with preschoolers & discussed this at length many times, but here was an opportunity to reach a younger audience seeing as I'm working with the 2-3 year olds this year. I wanted to keep it simple, yet still get the core message across.

 At the centre of this experience was learning the emergency number, 000. We used an old phone often used as a prop in dramatic play.
The children then had the opportunity to identify the numerals on the phone's touch pad & locating the zero. We did this as a group & again as individuals.
 Once each child located the zero button we talked about how many times we need to press it, 3 times.
As a group we talked about how important it might be to remember how to do this. Consequently, we have been revisiting this during dramatic play as well as part of our numeracy experiences.

Although these children are relatively young, they posses the potential to help save someone's life, just like 3 year old miss Costa. We don't always like to think about these type of scenarios, but the fact is they are a part of our society whether we like it or not. It might not be a home invasion, but a parent who has collapsed for whatever reason & is unable to make it to a phone.

Afterall, children are often far more capable & resourceful then we adults give them credit for. Even as someone who espouses to this notion I am constantly amazed at what my children are able to achieve.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We are Fighting Prejudice, Both Great & Small

There have been numerous studies that have identified a fear of being seen as a sexual predator as being one of the main reason why men have steered clear of a career of working with young children. See the list of articles listed under our 'Research' section for examples. As Teacher Tom pointed out in a recent blog we all have our own prejudices. It's how we deal with them when we realise they have surfaced that determine who we really are.

Unfortunately, some of these can impact greatly on the lives of others. In the case of men working with young children there are people who have preconceived ideas of how people of certain genders should behave or what they should do. I recently discovered a discussion forum in which the author questioned the appropriateness of a particular male teaching her preschool-aged daughter. Take a look and see what you make of it. Be sure to read the comments too as there are some real eye openers there. 

The author stipulates that she has a problem with this particular male and not all, but also goes on to say that she would be less concerned if it regarded her sons. While I can understand her concerns and those in some of the comments, I find it disheartening at the least to discover a mother can have greater protective feelings in regard to certain children because of their gender. If your fear is that a guy might molest your child, shouldn't you take into consideration the fact that sex offenders target boys as much as girls?

What is even more alarming to me is the common thread of those who seemingly espouse that they support having male preschool teachers, but would insist on them having a female assistant - for toileting purposes and, I assume, supervise his interactions to ensure they are appropriate. Maybe I'm reading more into it than there is. Does anyone demand a male to be present when a female assists a boy with toileting, getting dressed, etc? And what if a service was lucky enough to have 2 or more men in their employment and both staff in a room just happened to be male? Would there be a mass exodus as parents withdrew their children? I surely hope not.

In my brief time as an early childhood educator I have been witness and on the receiving end of both positive and negative attitudes. The positives have always outnumbered the negatives by an enormous margin, yet the negative attitudes remain. They remain in broader society, local communities, within cultural groups, and most stunning of all, within the profession itself. A comprehensive move needs to take place to shift the way some of these people look upon males in early childhood education. We are never going to change the minds of everyone, nor should we as they have a right to their opinion. However, if we can enlighten those within the profession and families to the benefits of having males work with young children then we are off to a good start.

As an individual I can do my bit by providing the best example I can that men can be wonderful teachers, nurturers and companions to children as they grow, learn and develop. I would also like to see a greater collaboration between fellow male early educators. The ideal behind this group is magnanimous, but at the moment it is merely a one man show. I believe we need to collaborate with governments as well as secondary and tertiary institutions to encourage more males to consider teaching as a career, especially early childhood and to support those already enrolled to see it through to graduation. There also needs to be an incentive to attract more men. As one of the few industries where men a greatly outnumbered it would not be impertinent to suggest some scholarships.

I'm sorry, I have begun on one subject and begun to rant on another. Perhaps this is a discussion for another time, but have a read of the forum post and tell me what you think. Am I over analysing or is there a systemic prejudice towards men when it come to young children's care?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fathers Day Ideas

For our international readers Fathers Day occurs on the first Sunday in September in Australia. This year my toddlers will be creating pencil holders by decorating small tins. Inside these will be cards made by the children. We will also include a poem I made up to be inclusive of all men in the children's lives:

You're the bloke I love, of that there is no doubt.
I love you so much that I simply have to shout.
I can ask no more as you're the best that you can be.
Every day I'm thankful for all you do for me.
I love you with all my heart

What do you guys think? What are some of the ideas you might be doing this year?

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a Great Idea

We all love hearing from old friends, especially those we haven't heard from for a long time.
But what is even more exciting is making new friends.
We have more opportunities than ever bofore to make new friends with social network sites such as facebook
& twitter.
Deborah over at Teach Preschool has wonderful idea to us to make friends in a completely different way. She is hosting a postcard exchange. head on over to check it out & fill out a participation form.

Who knows, you may end up sending a postcard to your BFF (Best Friend of the Future).

All images use in this post were obtained from Google Images.

Friday, August 12, 2011

ZOOper Dooper

A little while ago one of our little ones visited Melbourne Zoo & brought back photos to share with everyone. While sharing these photos we tried to identify the various creatures pictured in them.
We knew about elephants, or as some pronounced 'efelants.'

It's a efelant family!
 There were some generalisations such as labelling all water birds as ducks.
 Yet this is typical for 2-3 year olds & with our resident expert on the ball to correct us - "They're not ducks, they're pelicans," the children were exposed to the correct terminology via peer scaffolding.
 We knew this was a zebra because it has stripes.
 And this is a giraffe because it has a long neck.
Hang on  minute! These have stripes too, but they're not zebras. Of course these guys are tigers.
 But some also said these were tigers. I'm so confused.
 Oh, our expert says they are lions if they have big hair.
 We must be going on a bear hunt, but this one's not scary so we won't have to run away.
Maybe we scared him.
Cheeky monkeys, just like the song.
They like to swing & jump in the trees.
They can also climb very high.
This one came up very close. We discovered it was actually a lemur, but only when we revisited the photos at a later time. For now the children were the ones imparting their knowledge.
 Our expert told us this was a sting ray.
 Our little friend was able to pat it.
 These are seals. They're good swimmers & can also do tricks.
 We are only a small part of this world. I learnt so many things from my little friend who brought back these photos, from our resident expert on animals & from all of our inquisitive little Steve Irwins.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Reflecting on Reflections

Seeing as my previous post was a type of personal reflection I thought I'd take a leaf out of the book of other bloggers out there & share some of their reflective posts.

Paulette over at Designing Early Childhood Australia shared an insightful post about the stress of working with others:

Deborah at Teach Preschool shares a story about an unexpected opportunity to reflect:

Scott, the 'brick layer' recently reflected on reflecting on/evaluating his efforts. Sometimes we can get a little too critical of ourselves:

This is only a small sample, but even from this you can see how we each reflect in different ways & for differing reasons. Sometimes it to analyse our practices, sometimes it to figure out why something didn't work like we expected & at times it in response to feedback we have received. No matter what the catalyst of your reflection, simply engaging in the process is a sign that you value the ideal of self improvement & continued learning in order to provide the best of care & education for the little ones you are lucky enough to be given the privilege of looking after.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Maybe it's the Bloke in Me

I recognise that there are certain aspects of my personality that others may find annoying. I admit many of my qualities can be perceived as negative, such as stubbornness, inability to see things right in front of me & forgetfulness. My wife would most willingly add many more to the list with detailed explanations as to their severity & numerous examples.

I also understand that my gender can present its own dilemmas in such a female dominated profession. The simple art of communication can bring up a plethora of issues. While I avoid stereotypes in most instances there are some generalisations that can be made. Men & women tend to communicate in different ways. They also often have a different approach to various situations.

I am stating this as part of a personal reflection. I am discovering that my actions, body language & tone of voice are implying disrespect, arrogance or an 'I know better' attitude when this is usually far from true. I have worked on the delivery of how I present myself to others, but can sometimes slip back into old habits. I would like to think that I use constructive feedback to better improve how I perform as an individual, both personally & professionally, as well as part of a team. However, whenever I am working changing on how I do something it takes conscious though until it becomes second nature. Even then there may be times when I revert back to my old way of doing things as they are still part of my make up.

I hope that everyone goes through these crises from time to time & I am sure that it's not specific to one gender or the other. Yet I can't help feeling sometimes that I'm being such a bloke in so many ways. Sometimes that's a good thing while on other occasions it's not so pleasant.

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning & so I see such instances as opportunities for me to enrol in the school of life. But I also sense that my inherent maleness leads to a propensity in such thickheadedness. The odd need to knock some sense into me will probably always exist. I can work on various skills till the cows come home, but the crux of the matter is that I cannot change who I am & I wouldn't want to.

I try to be empathetic towards others & inclusive of all colleagues. yet for all my efforts I am aware that I can still be a nightmare to deal with at times. Maybe it's the bloke in me, but I think that's over simplifying it. It's who I am & although I can change my behaviours or work on my skills, the fundamental things that make me ME will remain. I'm not perfect. In fact I'm far from it. I just continue to try to be the best me I can be. I am open to any suggestions, within reason of course.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Good to be Back

Just a short post to share with you my experience of walking back into my toddler room after 2 weeks off.

No sooner did I walk into the room than I had almost all of the children calling out my name enthusiastically before running up & giving me one almighty group hug. I was almost knocked to the floor with love.

Later in the day I sat down & they all helped tell me about all the things they had done while I was away. It was so empowering for them to take charge of the experience. The children remained enthusiastic & committed to telling me all of their adventures for what seemed like an eternity, but was actually about 20 minutes.

They obviously missed me, but still had a ball. Good for them & good for me. :)