After a few jobs that did not feel like they had any purpose, 27-year-old Matthew Lambert settled on teaching as a possible career.
A first-hand look at the classroom during a period as a teacher aide showed Matthew that a school teacher wasn’t necessarily where his career path lay but the desire to work with children remained.
A girlfriend who was studying early childhood education and working in the sector gave Matthew the idea that maybe working with pre-school age children was where his skills lay so he applied for a six-month course with the New Zealand Career College including a practicum at an ECE service.
The practicum confirmed to Matthew that early childhood education was where he wanted to be. He says:
“After that first practicum, I just knew that I found the career I was meant to do. A teacher at my centre always asks me: do you ever have a bad day? Do you get grumpy? Because you are always so happy and full of joy when we see you. That pretty much sums up why working in ECE appeals to me. No matter what is going, as soon as I walk into the centre, and I am greeted by the children, I am happy, and know that this is where I am supposed to be”.
Matthew is now studying for a Bachelor of Teaching degree in ECE and working as a reliever at an early childhood centre in Blockhouse Bay.
He credits the staff at the centre for encouraging him and helping him find opportunities like the ChildForum Men in ECE grant. He intends to save the money to use as an emergency fund for an unforeseen expense during his studies such as needing to upgrade a computer or maintain his car so he can get to class, and says he is also looking forward to accessing the research and support that the ChildForum membership will bring.
Matthew says he hopes to be a role model to other men to show it is possible to forge a successful career in the early childhood sector. He is pleased to see there is support for men in the sector and delighted to know that ECE Menz for men in early childhood exists.
He says: “If you are thinking about it, and you are worried about the stigma of a man working with children, ignore it and give it a go. My experience has been positive and I believe you too will hear a lot of positive comments along the lines of ‘it’s so good to have a male here in our centre’ because that’s what I heard the most in the beginning”.
Note: The grant awarded to Matthew was sponsored by the Ole Schoolhouse early childhood centre in Rotorua. Many thanks to the Ole Schoolhouse community and in particular to owners Eric and Julie Hollis.