Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Matt Te Maro Seymour From New Zealand by Mike Prochaska
Matt Te Maro Seymour is in the Early Childhood Education field in Whāngarei, New Zealand. He’s worked with all ages of kids, from 8 weeks to 6 years old, but currently works with kids from 2 to 6. Read on to learn more about Matt...
Q. How did you get into this field?
“I kind of fell into it. I suppose it was like a love at first sight type story. After designing and building kitchens I went into primary school training (ages 5-12). For this I was studying through correspondence, so I still had to work. I broke my collarbone in rugby, so I couldn’t do kitchens. I got word that a local child-care centre needed a reliever urgently. I had just finished a placement in a new entrance class so thought it would be quite fitting to look into. So I gave them a visit … and by that lunch time realized where I needed to be. I stayed at that centre for seven and a half years before moving, and this will be my 10th year in ECE, so I made the right choice.”
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in Early Childhood Education?
“I never really saw myself as a male in ECE until recently. I suppose a different perspective and way of doing things, processing thoughts for planning and learning. For many of our children it is great to have a positive male role model, especially for families that don’t have many or any positive male role models in their lives. For some boys it gives them someone that they can relate to with certain situations. As males we mature later in life than females, so we’re more on young children’s level with thinking and energy (ha ha ha ha).”
Q. Why is play important for children?
“I look at play as creating. Creating meaningful learning experiences through playful interactions. I, as most young children, am primarily a kinestetic learner. I learn by doing, experiencing, playing. Einstein said, ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun,’ so play is learning having fun. Another quote I love is, ‘Children learn as they play. More importantly, in play children learn how to learn’ [from] O. Fred Donaldson.”
Q. What about outside play. Is it important?
“Oh, for sure. Adding in the elements, exploring all of the outdoor environment. The different feel, freedom, textures, visuals. Different, boundaries to stretch, challenges, risk. In a lot of cases, in my experiences, plenty of room to run around, climb trees, play rough and tumble activities. It lets the mind do its magic, opens the box of walls and with the fresh air inspires play.”
Q. What is your favorite memory working with kids?
“I have so many but the first one that came to me just now is when a child chose to make a cake and birthday card for her mother, then when she handed it over her mother immediately cried. I’m not one for touchy Hallmark moments, but that was a great example of the power of a child and their love. Just being a part of helping her make that cake and the conversations about how much they love their mum and care about them, and then just being in the room when the mother received the gifts was amazing.”
Q. What’s your favorite book you read to the classroom?
“Anything that isn’t too long, with big pictures and plenty of opportunities for different character accents or expressive voices.”
Q. What are your favorite activities to do with your kids?
“High-energy play. Singing and dancing like a crazy. Rough-and-tumble play, activities like bull rush and wrestling.”
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
“Every day I have the opportunity to be something different. Today I was an astronaut. Every day I have the opportunity to be myself, to use my energy and be a part of someone else’s journey to awesomeness. Every day I learn something new and I experience something different.”