Men Working At Mt. Kisco Childcare

The sound of children laughing, playing and learning in daycares is almost completely synonymous with the nurturing touch of women. Put a man in the mix and the needle may seem destined to jump. But Dawn Meyerski of Mt. Kisco Childcare knows from experience that adding men to the music is a notch that definitely proceeds on the side of harmony. With three men on staff, says MKCCC's Program Director, "a small number of parents are at first skeptical but you get that with anything that is different."
Men Working at Mt. Kisco Childcare
Source - Rich Monetti

The sound of children laughing, playing and learning in daycares is almost completely synonymous with the nurturing touch of women. Put a man in the mix and the needle may seem destined to jump. But Dawn Meyerski of Mt. Kisco Childcare knows from experience that adding men to the music is a notch that definitely proceeds on the side of harmony.

With three men on staff, says MKCCC's Program Director, "a small number of parents are at first skeptical but you get that with anything that is different."

In those instances, it's a matter of familiarity that develops over time. "I had

a toddler parent who absolutely did not want her daughter in the room that had the man in it, but once the child became a preschooler, that parent requested the room with the man in it," she says.

She admits the early reaction was more prevalent in previous decades, but today, the end result mostly matches first impressions. “Oh, you have men,” she says new parents are pleasantly surprised.

It also puts a different spin on the morning – especially for fathers. “Dads are glad to see a man – they bond over last nights game and the like before embarking on the workday."

Assistant Toddler Teacher Ryan Martin has that down, according to Head Teacher Vanessa Amato-Cicchelli. With in-depth interest in music, sports and movies, she says, "He’s always chatting up the parents and it makes them feel comfortable."

Still, achieving a personal comfort level can be a journey given that men might be viewed as out of place in this role. “I don’t worry about it as much as I have in the past,” he says.
At this for about 15 years, he takes any real or imagined trepidation from new parents in stride. “I step back and let them warm up to me,” he says.

The results speak for themselves but the parent/teacher dynamic isn’t the only relationship that requires the attention of Ms. Meyerski. She's referring to the hesitation among the majority sex on staff and the preconception they sometimes have to be talked down from. “Men throw kids up in the air and women hold them close,” she says describes the roles we tend to assign to men and women, and that contrast causes initial concern.

The worry then is that men are good at winding kids up without the ability to calm them down. In her experience, she again generally agrees, but the battle of the sexes naturally fizzles to compromise. "Both men and women teachers learn how to mix together, and in reality, it’s not truly an issue," she says.

That said, Vanessa


and Ryan quickly became acclimated to each other when they first starting working together five years ago. “It’s about communication and working out things within your own style,” says Mr. Martin.

At the same time, she’s happy to defer in surprise of suggestions that are outside her perspective. “I never would have thought of that,” she says of a recent idea that added a sporty spin to her lesson plan.

But despite his Sunday allegiance to the rough and tumble Pittsburgh Steelers, says Ms. Amato-Cicchelli, he offers the kids more "a light touch" in his care. Along with Cicchelli, Ms. Meyerski puts a high value on that. "For kids who are away from parents all day," she says, "to see a man in such a nurturing light - I think it’s hugely important."

He’s also professional, which covers the initial concern she has in hiring men. Like any employer, staff relationships can cause problems for business operation. "I’m really looking at his maturity and commitment to the job. If you have that – whether you’re a man or a woman – the drama is less likely," she says.

Finally, diaper changing duty mostly falls into line with the acceptance she sees today among parents. If not, she says, "I think it’s something they get over quickly once they get to know the staff."
On the other hand, as MKCCC has never had a male applicant to the infant room, the story there could be different. “My belief is that parents may raise more a concern at infancy," she says.

Of course, when the day comes, she has no doubt about how she’ll present the qualified newcomer. "I will do it confidently and we’ll be happy to have him on the team." she says.
If the past is any indicator, she’ll be on the mark – and to the man.

My article originally appeared at :
www.westchesterguardian.com/12_1_11/wg_12_1_fin.pdf
 



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