CONTRIBUTORS Behave yourself!

In January this year, continuing our series in association with Edge Hill University looking at Early Years, ALICIA BAYO- BLANCO, Early Years Lecturer and WTEY Programme Leader, looked at “adequacy” in an Early Years context.

Men are doing ‘women’s work’!

Saarni (1999) refers to “adequacy” as the ability to connect with others whilst developing a sense of self-worth. Interestingly, all cultures develop as a result of people coming together to create a community. Cole et al. (2006), Vinden (1999), Camras et al. (2014), De Leersnyder et al. (2011) and Dunsmore & Halberstadt (2009) amongst others, suggest that behaviours that are acceptable in one type of community within a culture but might not be so in another. Each community develops its own beliefs but, in the end, they are all based on a sense of belonging and a sense that members matter to one another. In order to connect with others, it is important to understand what levels of ‘adequacy’ different members are bringing into the community. In an Early Years setting this Cycle of Belonging begins when children connect with practitioners and other children and they feel they matter to others. If this is how children can develop “adequacy”, perhaps the answer is to use LOVE in order to promote adequate behaviour. Whilst researching the use of LOVE as a behaviour management

strategy, I came across the Love and Logic approach developed by Jim Fay and Charles Fay in the late 1970’s. This approach suggests that practitioners may develop strategies unique to each community based on the principles of: 1. Perseverance and enhancement of self-worth. 2. Teach children how to acknowledge and solve problems. 3. Adult and child share the control during the decision-making process. 4. Define consequences which emphasise empathy and warmth. 5. Focus on developing strong relationships between the adult and the child.

An environment that enables interactions will also offer children

opportunities to develop self-worth and as a result emotional maturity to solve problems (big or small). Building a tower, pouring water through a funnel or accepting that today it is somebody else’s turn to be at the front of the line are some of the examples of situations that occur on a daily basis in an Early Years setting. Children need to learn to acknowledge emotions as they arise in different social contexts and our role as practitioners is to help them develop the ability to self-regulate. The importance of supporting the development of self-worth through

strong relationships based on positive interactions is also highlighted in these principles. The idea of comforting children in a loving and caring manner offers a canvas of calmness where logic can be applied. We can reason with children if we show them affection first. Whether we use the Love and Logic approach to behaviour management or simply develop our own based on LOVE, it is essential to focus on the development of empathetic connections. Saarni (1999) explains that when we try to understand somebody else’s emotional experience whilst we consider our own beliefs and values, we are able to make our interactions with others much more powerful. The question we need to answer is, “are we doing enough, as Early Years practitioners, to support the development of empathy in young children?”

Editor’s Choice 2020

In February, in our ongoing collaboration with the Early Years faculty at Edge Hill University, curated by Education Today columnist Alicia Blanco Bayo, Early Years Lecturer and WTEY Programme Leader, Education Today was delighted to hear from EMMA ROWLANDS, Y2 student BA (Hons) Working and Teaching in Early Years at the university, who challenged gender-based stereotypes relating to the role of men in Early Years education.

Following a recent conversation with a male Early Years practitioner, views were exchanged in relation to an individual’s practice and how the way this is delivered within education settings is somehow influenced by gender. This is mainly due to being wary of gender equality issues and the traditional stereotype of ‘women doing this’ and ‘men doing that’. Although perceptions and attitudes regarding the significance of male role models within childcare are changing, this is yet to be reflected in professional career opportunities, with recent statistics showing that men represent 2% of the Early Years workforce in the UK, less than 3% in Australia and under 5% in the US (DfE, 2019). The lack of male practitioners, particularly in Early Years, is somewhat due

to the lack of importance this period of education and its status has, as well as the lower pay thresholds roles within this field attract. This therefore fails to recognise the value of early years educators, despite this being a fundamental time in which a child’s foundations and attainments for future development and learning are formed. Males are often deterred from career opportunities within childcare as a

result of varying connotations and attitudes which associate working with young children as ‘women's work’. This is often due to the traditional view of women having a caring nature and maternal instinct, yet are men really less equipped for these nurturing roles? Arguably, society’s prejudices heavily influence and turn away males from entering childcare professions, which can be due to the harsh reality of some of these being associated with indecent behavior, men being perceived as a threat to some young children and the role being considered as unmanly. This then leads to debates such as how do we feel about men comforting children? Sometimes children may want a cuddle or want to sit on your knee, which many early years pioneers have expressed as invaluable for children’s emotional well-being. Why is this often questioned when it is a male compared to a female partaking in the same role, but it would be deemed acceptable if it was their own child? For children to grow and develop in a world where there are truly equal

opportunities for all, these prejudices and stereotypes need to be challenged. Perhaps most importantly the perceptions of parents need to be addressed as after all, most would not have an issue with male nurses, and therefore the stigma around males in childcare needs to change in similar ways to that of other professions. Research highlights multiple benefits of males working within the Early Years workforce, such as their being able to offer different perspectives on play and learning opportunities, as well as reducing attainment gaps with boys in particular. Therefore, more support, recruitment drives, and better career guidance is needed in line with building men’s confidence to apply for roles within the Early Years workforce, as well as an emphasis on them being valued highly in a credible profession which is equally extremely rewarding. 23

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