Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Educator Matthew Ciscart by Mike Prochaska
Matthew Ciscart, from New York City, currently works for the Department of Education, but he spent close to 10 years working with infants and toddlers. Matthew worked for both federally funded early Head Start and private care, so he's seen a little bit of everything. He's also a photographer! Read on to learn more about Matthew...
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in Early Childhood Education? What do men bring to classroom?
“I don't know about advantages per se. I do think there are always good and bad though it is subjective to one’s experience. When I first began I didn't really feel welcome by parents. So, for me it sucked, as I do it because I enjoy it, yet I felt resistance from parents because I was a male working with essentially ‘babies.’ I'm lucky enough to see a change in having parents question whether I was qualified. As for advantages, you would have to ask coworkers, as they would be better to explain it to me. Parents seem to always feel I'd be the stern voice in the classroom, which is not me in any shape form or fashion.”
Q. Why is play important for children?
“Play is practice, plain and simple. Our little ones put into use what they have learned during play. If they don't use it during play I don't feel they really know it. Also, while playing you get to see just how they are thinking. Always interesting how they may put a concept into practice they have seen. I'm a believer in letting our little ones take the lead with play. It lets me gauge where they actually need me to help them. So, play is never about my goals but where they are and building around that. Also, during play they get to engage with their peers learning about each other. What is similar, what is different.”
Q. What’s your favorite memory working with kids?
“Too many to name any particular one. What does it for me is when you reach a parent and finally connect with them. I've often told my parent we are basically co-parenting together. My goal is to assist them. When a parent reaches out to me because my thoughts and opinion is important is, I would say, the best part. To get an invite to a kid’s birthday party and everyone at the party know exactly who I am is one of the greatest feelings.”
Q. What’s your favorite book to read to your classroom?
“I will say it's a classroom photo album. Even before picking up a camera I thought photos were very important, and would print and display photos in albums. This let me sit down with kids and just sit down and chat. That is pretty much the point of any book. Engage with a child, and photos give us something tangible, as the images are of people and things they actually know. They got to see their peers doing what we do on any given day, going through different emotions.”