Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Canadian Educator Justin Langlois by Mike Prochaska
Justin Langlois is an early childhood educator from Tilbury, Ontario, Canada. “I currently work for EarlyON/ONyva Child and Family Center as a French/English early years educator and we support families with children aged 0 to 6. I want to give a shout out to my amazing team of fellow educators – you women are amazing.” Read on to learn more about Justin…
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in early childhood education? What do men bring to classroom?
"The advantages that come with being male are rather great because there are so few. When looking at the landscape of early childhood education we see about one male for every 100 females, but neither is of more importance. Male or female, we should be here for one reason and one reason only and that is to help our future doctors, teachers, fast-food workers or whatever these children grow up to be. Shine and blossom without judgment. We owe them at least that."
Q. Why is play important for children?
"When we give the gift of play to our young children – and by gift of play I mean unstructured play – we are giving them the opportunity to show us some incredible things. If we give children a rich play environment that is limited in rules, anything is possible. Following a child’s lead allows them to use their creativity and expand their imagination. We want them to face their fears and grow as individuals and the key to that is through PLAY."
Q. What about outside play?
"Outside play is even more important, especially these days. Giving children the chance to explore nature (again in an unstructured way) we give them the keys to a better future. Children who spend more time outside have so many more opportunities that cannot be duplicated inside. Just having a toddler walk on uneven ground allows them to develop their balance. Think about that! Something as simple as walking on uneven ground will help your child develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence because you are confident in their abilities. So yes, outside play is essential."
Q. What is a favorite memory working with kids?
"I have so many `favorite` memories working with children it’s hard to pick just one, so I’ll go with this: One day when I was teaching kindergarten as an RECE we had a little boy use some rather colorful language. A large group of the class heard this and came to tell me. Of course, we had a class discussion about it. We talked about adult words, kid words, big words small words and bad words.
"While in the middle of this discussion, I noticed this boy really wanting to share what he had to say so I gave him the chance to share. He stood up and without missing a beat he said, 'Well, my mom says what the f*ck all the time.' It was one of those moments where you were busting up laughing on the inside while trying to keep a straight face on the outside. So yes, parents we know all the little secrets.”
Q. What is your favorite book to read to your classroom?
"Books are a great tool to use in the early years of a child’s life. I enjoy finding books that align with the children’s interest. If I see that children are really into bugs and insects, then I will gladly hunt down a book that supports that interest. I really enjoy reading to children in general."
Q. What are your favorite activities to do with the kids?
"Activities are not really something I enjoy. If there is a result, already pre-determined, than that is not really my style. My favorite way to 'teach' is on the spot. Someone says something and you are ready to help him or her explore and discover. You really need to be in moment every moment to support children in your program and that might mean you need to be 20 different 'teachers' for 20 different children."
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
"I’ve always followed a quote when thinking of this field: 'Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid.' It translates to 'Little by little the bird makes his nest.' Time is the key. Give these children time to grow and you will be amazed."
Check out Justin's CK Community of Practice Facebook page!
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