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The top 6 things men bring to childcare

When discussing gender roles and how they influence careers, society is usually talking about the glass ceiling that affects women - the myriad challenges that women face when entering a field or progressing through their career.

But when it comes to childcare, and particularly early years childcare, we face a different issue. Just 2% of the UK’s early years workforce are male, despite the fact that research shows they are a huge benefit to children’s development.

At LEYF Nurseries we are passionate about recruiting and retaining more male practitioners in our family of nurseries - you can watch our Men in Childcare video here, and read our research report here.* We know men make a wonderful addition to every nursery - so here’s a roundup of our 6 favourite things men bring to childcare:

1. They teach children that they can be whatever they want to be

When children are cared for exclusively by women, we run the risk of teaching them that childcare is a ‘girl’s job’. At this young age they may already be beginning to learn that careers are shaped by gender, and begin to limit their ambitions and dreams. But when children see a mixture of genders at nursery, they know they can be anything they want to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, you can dream big and - most importantly - be yourself!

2. They challenge gender stereotypes

In early years childcare it’s important to be nurturing, caring and understanding. But these qualities are not restricted to women!

It’s crucial that children are able to see these qualities in men around them, and that they never believe only women can be caring and loving. In their formative early years children shouldn’t feel restricted by their gender or boxed into ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ categories.

3. Being around men prepares children for the future

Childcare is one of the few industries with such a pronounced gender imbalance, and children are unlikely to see this again in their lives! Therefore it’s important they are able to be around and interact with men, to prepare them for school and the wider world. If they only interact with women in their early years, we run the risk of children being afraid or unsure of men.

4. Male carers give children role models

For some children their fathers are the only male role models they have, and for others they would have none unless they interacted with men at nursery. This can be challenging for young children who would benefit from a male role model to look up and emulate. When developing their sense of identity and self, having a role model can be valuable and very reassuring.

5. Men bring a diverse spectrum of perspectives and ideas

It’s important for children to learn from a range of perspectives, characters and personalities, and you can’t have real diversity without men! Different life experiences mean men can naturally bring a different energy to childcare. This allows children to develop and learn with a broader perspective, helping them to interact confidently with all different kinds of people.

6. Most importantly, the children love it!

Children at LEYF Nurseries love being around male carers - not because they bring anything superior to their roles, but because they are different and that’s exciting! It’s great fun for children to meet new people, laugh and play with them. And it’s most fun when they get to play with both women and men!

*In 2012 LEYF Nurseries founded the Men in Childcare networking group, and in 2013 we organised the first National Men in Childcare conference in London, won the Nursery World Inclusion Award and presented to the Government All Party Parliamentary Group.

If you’re interested in joining our family of nurseries, we’re ready to welcome you. Find out more here.

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