Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With "Genius Coach" Lajos Kristof From Romania by Mike Prochaska
Lajos Kristof is a preschool teacher and "genius coach" in Bucharest, Romania. Lajos provides counseling to exceptional children. He has an interesting story because he started out his life as an orphan.
Q. How did you get into Early Childhood Education (ECE)?
“I have worked in Early Childhood Education for 10 plus years, with children between ages 3 and 5 years, and in the afternoon I am a professor of performing arts and theater.
“I started this from my personal story. I have a better understanding of what it is to give to children through the experience I have had in the orphanage. My parents abandoned me because they were too poor. In the orphanage we are concerned with the lack of affection and understanding, the lack of parents with the individual study.
“Even if I was a special child, I felt alone, and I said I had to do something for society, for the children I would work with. Give them what I did not receive in the orphanage: love, understanding, education, understanding and empathy. I was concerned about the human mind, the study of behavior, so at age 9 I was already reading literary literature. My dream was to become a psychiatrist for children, but the balance gave more weight in destiny to educate brilliant minds.”
Q. What are your views on ECE?
“Classroom education works according to personal principles in my life: without punishment, rewards, children should not be afraid or ashamed of mistakes, always be connected in a harmonious human environment in which each child will feel important, understand that are connected to nature and the natural environment, to be encouraged to ask questions, to understand the beauty, the good, the truth and always the courage to express their natural personality. Adaptation to kindergarten is gentle: the baby can stay in the arms of the mother or the daddy while he feels the need, can embrace, talk. This is part of our daily lesson in parent-child relationship and educator.”
Q. What is your favorite book to read to your classroom?
“'Corduroy' [by Don Freeman]."
Q. What are the challenges of a male educator in ECE?
“I believe that in Romania the beliefs and values in education are outdated. The problem seen by parents is that the woman is best suited for younger children. Because we are facing education with the issue of separation anxiety, a problem with which we work not only with children but also with parents, because they often transfer or project anxiety and the transfer of trust between parent and educator becomes a chore, a burden in which you feel effectively incompetent in the job you have chosen. But especially when you work in a private center and your employer expects you to be the best fit to work with your children. Unfortunately, in the alternative system, paradigm shift is a necessity. You work more with your parents than your child. Good manners, greetings, politeness and other aspects of common sense at home.”
Q. Why is outdoor play important for children?
“Usually education in nature is promoted quite often. We go out in nature, take teaching materials, stories, painting materials and often do lessons in the park or forest. Children love nature, people and animals. In my free time mentoring children with high abilities in math or science, my basic training is to train the genius children. In Romania I am called a genius coach.”
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