The role of male caretakers and pre-school teachers for father involvement in ECEC
Keywords:Fathers, Early childhood Education and care (ECEC), Gender equality, Men, Male workers n ECEC
‘Children need men!’ This rallying cry is a common argument for father involvement in the family as well as in the context of strategies for more men in ECEC. In what way are these two issues linked? Based on international research on the issue, this paper asks what role male EC workers can have for the involvement of fathers in the work of ECEC institutions / pre-schools. A critical gender perspective is crucial for the understanding of these links.
The relevance of fathers for children’s development in the early years is widely accepted nowadays. At the same time, institutional care for children remains a female-dominated field worldwide. However, in some countries, campaigns for more men in ECEC have showed some success, e.g. Norway and Germany. One of the arguments in such campaigns is that male practitioners can encourage father involvement in ECEC institutions.
The connection between father involvement and men in ECEC was already present in European debates on men and childcare more than two decades ago. But what do we really know about the role of male workers for cooperation with fathers? This paper gives an international overview on studies on the issue, and connects their results to the realms of practice. Finally, arguments for a specific role for male ECEC professionals in approaching and supporting fathers are presented and critically discussed.
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