LifestyleOf Life Decisions and Lessons Learnt from Children: Our Male Preschool Teachers Tell It All!

June 11, 2019
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Being an early childhood educator used to be regarded as a career path for women – but according to figures from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the number of men entering the industry as preschool teachers has been rising steadily in recent years. As of 2018, there are 130 male early childhood educators in...

Being an early childhood educator used to be regarded as a career path for women – but according to figures from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the number of men entering the industry as preschool teachers has been rising steadily in recent years.

As of 2018, there are 130 male early childhood educators in Singapore, which make up less than 1 per cent of all educators in the industry.

While male preschool teachers bring on different perspectives and strengths in their interactions with young children, they also face a new set of challenges at work. This usually involves dealing with the stereotypes of being a male preschool teacher and gaining trust and acceptance from parents.

To find out what a day in the life of a male preschool teacher looks like and the journey that led them to the early childhood sector, we caught up with the amazing young men who take care and nurture the preschoolers in our MindChamps PreSchool centres across the globe.

Keep reading to check out the stories of our male MindChamps PreSchool teachers!

Jonathan Kum – MindChamps PreSchool @ Leisure Park Kallang (Singapore)

male preschool teachers

Jonathan Kum’s journey with MindChamps PreSchool @ Leisure Park Kallang – one which he has been on for two years now – marked the start of his adventure as a preschool teacher.

Prior to that, he had a part-time stint as a violin teacher at a local music school – and that was where he discovered how enriching it was to impart life skills and knowledge to the people around him. That experience also cultivated a soft spot for children in him.

Although there were various job opportunities for him to consider – some of which were deemed as more “masculine” – Jonathan felt “an inner peace that surpassed all understanding” when he was offered the position as a preschool enrichment teacher by MindChamps.

How did your friends and family react when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

They had no qualms about it and were in fact very supportive!

Share with us the struggles that you had to go through as a male preschool teacher.

Being asked to play and sing the “Baby Shark” song every day.

Jokes aside, the learning curve was initially very steep. It was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool, and the only thing saving you is a laminating machine, a pair of scissors and some glue.

One of the greatest struggles was and still is, learning to master the art of being a psychic in being sensitive to the emotions of the Champs.

On important lessons you have learnt from the children:

Children are a joy to behold and they find happiness in the smallest of things.

Their love is unbridled, and their view of the world is so transparent and sincere – everything is infinitely beautiful. True happiness and value and satisfaction lies not in material wealth or earthly possessions, but in emotional connections (how you treat others, how you forgive, how you hold your tongue and let things pass).

Children have inherently shown me time and time again, the power of forgiveness. It amazes me how a child can be upset with a friend in a moment and then be best friends in the next. Clinging on to the negative will only be detrimental to your own well-being. For when we can forgive, when we can let go, that’s where we find peace.

What advice would you give to another guy who is looking to become a preschool educator?

You will face many difficulties and you may receive raised eyebrows when you tell people about your job.

For what it’s worth, be that spark, that beacon of hope for all the children who look up to you – be that father figure.  Be that bridge that connects children to the wonderful world of knowledge and their guide to instil good morals. It is indeed a great privilege to nurture the lives of young children.

I hope that you will find that passion, that love and treasure. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Above all, do everything with love because love always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, and it always perseveres!

Read also: The Many Facets of Outdoor Play at our Preschool @ Leisure Park Kallang

Aloysius Chia – MindChamps PreSchool @ Serangoon (Singapore)

male preschool teachers

This year marks the sixth year as a preschool teacher for Aloysius Chia – but his career choice upon graduation was quite different from what he does today.

A music major in voice, Aloysius started off as an ophthalmic nurse, as he was torn between choosing the path of a nurse clinician and being a performer/vocal coach. When he realised that his day-to-day routine did not give him the satisfaction that he was looking for, he started looking for other avenues which allowed him to pursue his passion for music.

Upon a friend’s recommendation, he took up the role as a preschool music specialist at MindChamps PreSchool @ Serangoon – and that marked the start of his adventure with music and children.

How did your friends and family react when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

They were very supportive of my plans and decision to be a preschool teacher.

Share with us the struggles that you had to go through as a male preschool teacher.

I think the only struggle I had to go through was to adjust and adapt to a predominantly female working environment. Almost all my colleagues are female with different working styles, approaches and views.

On important lessons you have learnt from the children:

Despite being the teacher who guides the children, I have picked up some important lessons from the children throughout my journey over the years:

  • Simplicity is golden – sometimes, the best music comes from the simplest of melodies and rhythms
  • That every child is special, different, gifted and unique in their own ways
  • That there is such a thing as a “Daddy preparation course” – which is pretty useful too!

What advice would you give to another guy who is looking to become a preschool educator?

If you have a passion to teach and nurture our next generation, take the chance to become an early childhood educator. Do your best and be the father figure that the children need. And who knows, you might even meet the love of your life 😉

Read also: A Sneak Peek at MindChamps PreSchool @ Serangoon’s Welcome Day

Clinton Neo – MindChamps PreSchool @ Holland Village (Singapore)

male preschool teachers

What started off as an overseas attachment teaching English to children living in an orphanage in Myanmar has led Clinton to realise where his passion and strength lie – teaching children and being around them!

What made you decide to become a preschool teacher?

I have always known that I work best interacting with people, especially children. I enjoy the conversations, learning about the different personalities of each child and how to best meet their individual needs. There is an ever-changing learning curve being in this field and I never have to worry about feeling stagnant as there is always something new to learn and experience daily.

What was your friends’ and family’s reaction when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

My father is a traditional man who believes that having money is the most important thing and that a man should always pursue a career which reaps the highest income. When I shared with my family about my plans to pursue a career in early childhood, he was resistant. After a period of time, he saw the passion in me and learnt that with passion, determination and resilience we can achieve our goals and more.

Why do you think men shy away from this role?

I personally feel that this is due to the lack of security and comfort. Being in the early childhood industry is considered an “atypical” line of work for men and that would result in them second thinking about their choice to join this industry.

If there were more male role models in the industry, perhaps this would encourage more men to consider being an early childhood educator as they would feel more assured upon hearing from people who have “been there, done that”.

What are some struggles that you had to go through to fulfil your role?

Tackling the social pressures of being a male in the early childhood industry. I would occasionally feel that my actions might not be appropriate. Thankfully, I have strong support from my colleagues, principal and centre director who are willing to advise and guide me along my journey.

Read also: 4 Ways Kids Explore Sensory Play at this Preschool in Holland Village

Rogil Fajardo – MindChamps PreSchool @ Jurong West (Singapore)

male preschool teachers

Rogil’s first teaching experience dated back to the time when he was a bright-eyed 23-year-old who just graduated college – in a preschool on a hilltop run by a church in the Philippines. What started off as a kind gesture to help fill out a teaching role at that time has now led to nine wonderful years of him being a preschool teacher.

He attributes this to a strong desire to “make an impact on little ones through teaching”.

What was your friends’ and family’s reaction when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

They were surprised as it was very different from what I used to do. At the same time, they were happy that I have found a career path which gives me satisfaction.

What are some struggles that you had to go through to fulfil your role?

Interacting with very young children like those in playgroup. I am also constantly finding ways to give affirmation to the children, as there are limitations as to what is considered appropriate for male teachers.

On important lessons you have learnt from the children:

Children are unique and they have their own opinion on things. You will be surprised to hear the answers they give to seemingly simple questions! They can bring joy to teachers in their own special little ways.

Thus, as teachers, we should lead them positively.

What advice would you give to another guy who is looking to become a preschool educator?

Firstly, to be 100% sure that being a preschool educator is what you really want to be. For one to be a good teacher, a lot of patience is needed – coupled with and a love of teaching children and interacting with them.

Justin O’Neil – MindChamps Early Learning @ Penrith (Australia)

male preschool teachers

Justin’s journey as a preschool teacher dates to 2001, one which he embarked on after some contemplation over his shortlisted career options after high school. Today, he is the Centre Director of MindChamps Early Learning @ Penrith in Sydney, Australia – and here, he lets us in on what it is like being a male preschool educator in Australia.

What made you decide to become a preschool teacher?

When I first started working outside of school, I looked at the hospitality industry, but found that with the repetitive work, I became bored. Seeing an advertisement for a traineeship in childcare, I became interested. Working in education was another area I had considered and had always been complimented on how well I interacted with children – from assisting family members with their younger children.

I saw that with childcare, every day was a new day and that nothing was the same as the last. This interested me, along with being a big kid at heart. So, I took the leap and started my career in childcare and have been happy with the choice I made.

Do you consider your job unusual?

Personally, I do not consider my job to be unusual at all, although others may think otherwise. When I first started in childcare, it was odd to see a male taking on such a role. It was a very rare thing and as this was not the norm, it took families time to adjust.

What are some struggles that you had to go through to fulfil your role?

For myself when I first started, I had to break past the stereotype of a male working in childcare. I had to show that I was just like anyone else working in the industry.

Why do you think men shy away from this role? In your opinion, what would encourage more men to consider this profession?

Most men would shy away from a role in childcare because of the stereotype and how it is often classified as a role for women.  If it was seen as a more acceptable role for men, maybe more male teachers will take up the opportunity to work in childcare.

What advice would you give to another guy who is looking to become a preschool educator?

For anyone looking to work in childcare, take the leap and don’t listen to other people’s judgement of this industry. It is an extremely rewarding job, where every day is a new day.

Nick Wood – MindChamps Early Learning @ Annandale (Australia)

male preschool teachers

Having been in the childcare industry for 14 years now, for Nick, being a male preschool teacher is anything but unusual. Although he has held roles in various industries while growing up, being a preschool teacher is easily the most fun and rewarding experience.

Read on as he sheds light on his role as an early educator and the most important lessons he has learnt from the children under his care.

How did your family and friends react when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

I have had nothing but positive reactions from my friends and family. They have all been so supportive of my career choice. In fact, when I meet new people, especially those with children, they are always excited to hear that I’m a childcare educator and are always asking me for advice and opinions. The sentence I hear more than any other would be, “I couldn’t do what you do.”

What are some struggles that you had to go through to fulfil your role?

I have been very blessed in that I haven’t come across too many hardships in my career. In this industry, there is a lot of staff turnover at most centres and mine has been no different, so having to say goodbye to so many good educators whom I loved working with has been quite hard.

On important lessons learnt from the children:

I have learned to have a lot of patience. There’s no way anyone could be an educator of any kind without being an incredibly patient person. I have also learned that I really shouldn’t sit down at work unless I want to have 10 children jump on top of me!

Why do you think men shy away from this role? In your opinion, what would encourage more men to consider this profession?

I really think it boils down to two reasons. First is that it just doesn’t occur to most men that they could be childcare educators because it is still seen as “women’s work” to care for children. I believe this is changing slowly, but it does lead to the second reason in that men feel that they need to be the breadwinners of the family, and childcare, unfortunately, limits their ability to earn enough money for them to do so. It’s a real shame because people are crying out for there to be more male educators in childcare, judging by the reactions from the families at my centre.

Supakarn Nakavisut – MindChamps International PreSchool @ Kaba Aye (Myanmar)

male preschool teachers

Supakarn joined our MindChamps family in Myanmar earlier this year as a preschool enrichment teacher. With a passion for teaching music and a love for children, he shares snippets of what a male preschool teacher goes through on a typical day in school.

What made you decide to become a preschool teacher?

I have been involved in teaching music and studying about music education, and have, for a long time, been interested in the development of children’s minds – specifically their musical minds. Through my lessons and interactions with children, I hope to be able to share the richness and joy that music brings into our lives. This will be one of the areas that I will be working on with the children at MindChamps.

How did your family and friends react when you told them about your plans to be a preschool teacher?

They see it as an apt life choice, as they know that my interest lies in making a difference through education, specifically music education. Also, those who know me, know that I have a fondness towards children and can sometimes be somewhat of a child myself. So, working in the early childhood education industry was not much of a surprise to them.

How do parents and the children react when they found out that they are having a male teacher?

So far, I have not experienced any resistance by parents or children upon knowing that the enrichment classes will be taught by a male teacher. If anything, the children get more excited as it’s something different than what they are used to.

On important lessons learnt from the children:

I have learnt a great deal through my interactions with children. Firstly, that every child is naturally curious and that it is crucial to nurture them in the right way and inspire them to think critically. Secondly, working with children requires a lot of patience – and this is needed in order to teach them well. And lastly, never underestimate the power of fun as a tool for teaching. That is why learning through play is truly an effective way to help children absorb whatever it is that we are teaching them.

What advice would you give to another guy who is looking to become a preschool educator?

Children are born with the desire to learn – you just have to find out what works as every child is different. Having a lot of patience helps too!

Also, the only obstacle to being a male teacher is the one that is inside your mind. Once you get over this obstacle, there is nothing that can stand in the way of inspiring the younger generation to be the best that they can be!

Written by Justina Goh

 

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