March 10, 2023

What Early Childhood Education Looks Like: Normalizing Men in Childcare

At Early Learning Academies, we’ve had a lot of conversations about how to push back against harmful stereotypes in our industry and spread awareness of how things have changed for the better.

In our “What ECE Looks Like” series, we will celebrate rich, diverse stories and show how educators and leaders in the industry have worked to change things.

Many years ago, seeing a man working in childcare might have been considered unusual. These days, it’s widely acknowledged that children need different experiences and interactions with people of all genders and backgrounds to build a healthy foundation for educational, social, and emotional success.

We spoke with three male early childhood educators to learn about their path into childcare. Our first interview is with Raymel Menefee, Director of Operations (East) for ELA. Enjoy learning about his journey!

Raymel Menefee, M.Ed.

Director of Operations (East) for ELA

How did your career path into early childhood education begin?

I come from a family of educators, and I spent a lot of time watching my mom interact with children through her work in early childhood education. It stirred something in me, and I wanted to do my part in helping to educate young children.

What’s your favorite part about working in childcare?

I love seeing the smiles on children’s faces every day and the wonder of the world they find through play. It makes me so happy knowing we can provide such a pivotal aspect of their young lives.

How do people respond when you tell them you work in childcare? Why do you think they react that way?

I’ve been in the industry for over 23 years. The industry has evolved to be more inclusive. In the beginning, people may have thought it odd for a male to work with such young children, but I think today, people recognize how critical different interactions and experiences are for a child’s well-being. 

What advice would you give to men thinking about getting into the childcare field?

Though it might not be the most typical route, children need to have positive role models of all genders. Here’s where men can make the most impact, teaching children at a point in their lives where they learn more than at any other point. This has been a most rewarding career and I’d love to see other men join me in the industry. They’ll never regret it! 

Normalizing men in childcare is important to evolving this industry. Looking for more resources on this topic? Here are a few good places to start:

Male Early Childcare Professionals Matter

Men in ECE

What It’s Like Being a Male ECE Professional