Parents want more men to work in early years education, according to research by the Children's Workforce Development Council. Fifty five per cent of parents say they want a male childcare worker for their nursery-aged children, with two thirds of lone parent mothers saying they would like a man involved in the care and development of their young children. The latest figures for nursery workers say that only 2% are male.
There are a number of different reasons why there are so few men in early years work - low pay and low status, a cultural suspicion of men who want to spend time with young children, the stereotypes that say this is women's work. But surely we know that raising healthy children needs the involvement of both men and women. Good male role models are crucial for little boys and little girls, as are good female role models. And where men are missing from familes, how much more important for children to have male teachers at nursery and infant schools?
Isn't it time that we overcame those stereotypes that keep men and children separate? Isn't this something that the church could be instrumental in addressing? But I think it needs Christian men to stand up and say this is important; it's not something that women can do for them. So where are you, guys? We'll support you all the way.