Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Niall Fergus From Ireland by Mike Prochaska
Niall Fergus is from Dundrum, Ireland, which is one hour away from Dublin. He works at an after-school program for children between 5 and 8 years old at Little Dale Academy in Stilorgan. When Niall qualifies in Montessori and child care, then he’ll be able to teach any age group from 6 months to preschool. “I can’t wait, but I do love after-school children, too.” Read on to learn more about Niall...
Q. How did you get into Early Childhood Education?
“Bit of background: I am a qualified building surveyor and worked as one for four years, but it wasn't for me … Back in October 2016, I was at a crossroads. I said I love children and sports, which career will I pick? I was at mass one day and I saw a child and I just smiled and I said to my wife that I made my decision, I want to work with kids. I love seeing a smile on their faces.”
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in Early Childhood Education? What do men bring to classroom?
“I think since there are girls and boys in most classrooms in an early learning environment. If there are issues or to give advice, then a man can help more with the boys and the woman would know more regarding girl stuff. I love in a way that it’s a small percentage of men. I feel unique, sometimes it’s nice to stand out.
“I feel more men should go in to this area of child care. I feel some maybe be afraid or embarrassed because not many men do it, but they shouldn't – people should do what they love.”
Q. Why is play important for children?
“Play allows children to explore and be themselves and interact with other children.”
Q. What about outside play? Is it important?
“Again, outside play allows children to get physical activity, play with their friends and make new friends, they allow to negotiate, seeing how one can win and lose. I absolutely love outdoor play I would have at least two hours of play a day if possible, it’s great. I love the Scandinavian way through play and real-life materials.”
Q. What's your favorite memory working with kids?
“Any time I make a child happy from completing homework, etc., is a happy memory for me.”
Q. What's your favorite book to read to your classroom?
“It’s one about a cat and it wants to become a famous artist its very funny and the kids love it, forget the name."
Q. What's your favorite activities to do with your kids?
“Sports activities, simply just running around after them playing cops and robbers or my game, “Crabs Nest,” which they love. Sports day is great, too.”
Q. What are your feelings on roughhousing?
“Yes, I would be in favor of big body play – it’s good for children to play a bit of wrestling but there must be a bit of control and that’s the tough part of it. Most times it may end in tears, but it’s good to have a bit of fun.”