19 April 2007

Simon Archard clearly remembers his first day as a BTchg – Early Childhood student at Waikato University’s School of Education. Looking around the room, he realised he was the lone male in a sea of female faces.

Three-years on and graduating today (Thursday April 19), Simon is not fazed about being a male in a predominantly female profession. In fact, he is thrilled by the encouragement and support he receives from his female colleagues, the parents, whanau and children at Hamilton’s Jubilee Early Childhood Centre

“A male can bring another perspective to a female team and provide the children with another male role model. As a male educator, I can also encourage boys and girls to challenge specific gender activities.”

He says giving children the opportunity to interact with both genders in an early childhood setting is such a positive.

“I can really contribute to children developing confidence and give them good experiences of a male role model. This is an exciting prospect.”

Before starting his university study, Simon worked for several years with adults with intellectual disabilities in the area of applied psychology. He was also field officer for Autism Waikato.
Teaching was a natural progression as it was still in the field of learning and development, but offered another aspect to his experiences.

As a student, he particularly enjoyed studying human development, the arts, completing collaborative projects and discovering how to engage and include children in the learning process. Originally from England, he says learning about Maori culture was also valuable – even if he did find completing a presentation in Te Reo a challenge.

Simon encourages other males to give teaching a go, as the benefits far out-weigh the moments of feeling a minority.

“It is exciting to contribute to a profession that is critical in developing children into life-long learners.”

This year Simon attended the inaugural NZ Child Forum, “Men in Childcare Teaching Conference”. This is a first forum for male teachers in the early childhood profession.

His wife Sara graduates BTchg Primary qualification at the same ceremony.