For Joshua McKay, working in early childhood education is something of a family occupation. His wife Sarah is an ECE teacher and Joshua says it was she who inspired him to study.
The couple met in Nelson while she was studying and married just as she graduated, then after years of travelling around the world, they settled in Blenheim and had two sons.
Joshua says his interactions with his young boys further encouraged him to train to work with children.
“Not only do I want the best for our boys but I just enjoy spending time with them and doing great things together like building our mega tree-house in the back yard,” he says.
“They just love this interaction so much that it makes sense for me to work with other children and maybe encourage others to do the same”.
Now Joshua is enrolled at Te Tari Puna Ora O Aotearoa where Sarah also completed her studies, and works part time at the same ECE centre where his wife teaches the under-3s.
He says he is enjoying his studies so far, and is thrilled by the support offered by both the families and staff at the ECE centre where he works.
With a keen interest in the outdoors and sports such as mountain biking, Joshua believes he brings something a little different to the centre and for the children. He also enjoys sharing his links to the Maori people in the region with the children and encouraging them to use te reo.
He is using the ChildForum grant to buy the books he needs for his studies and says he hopes one day to be able to visit The Ole Schoolhouse ECE centre in Rotorua, which funded the grant, to thank them in person.
After graduating, Joshua says he would love to open his own ECE service with his wife.
“I would love to see a centre where whanau and children are involved with day to day planning and set up,” he says.
“I would love to create an environment where all children can have the best experiences and enjoy great healthy kai produced by themselves and Papatuanuku. I want to get children out there into our wonderful country to explore what we call Aotearoa/New Zealand”.
Joshua also hopes to encourage more men to consider ECE teaching as a career.
"I know a few men in ECE, but not enough,” he says.
“I think it is time to really get out there and encourage guys that they have a role to play in children's lives that can make such a difference in their early years. Children look up to me as a role model and just being there for them is a great start. I want to encourage men who have a spark with children to step up and do what it takes to make our country greater”.
Note: The grant awarded to Joshua was sponsored by the Ole Schoolhouse early childhood centre in Rotorua. Many thanks to Eric and Julie Hollis and the wonderful support of their centre.